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Organization says misinformation spread on Twitter following Hamlin's cardiac arrest

Twitter Musk Offices
Posted at 10:35 AM, Jan 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-05 12:00:35-05

Damar Hamlin's sudden cardiac arrest led to a rise in misinformation on Twitter, according to the Center for Countering Digital Hate.

The organization notes that the anti-vax trope "Died Suddenly" spiked by 328% a day after the on-field incident.

Some Twitter users were drawing comparisons to cardiac arrest and the COVID-19 vaccine despite not knowing whether Hamlin is vaccinated.

“Online anti-vaxxers are parasites, cynically exploiting tragedy to baselessly connect any injury or death of a notable person to vaccinations," said Imran Ahmed, chief executive of the Center for Countering Digital Hate.

Doctors have yet to say what caused Hamlin to suffer cardiac arrest after a tackle during the Monday Night Football game between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals.

Medical personnel administered CPR on the field and reportedly restarted his heart before taking him to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. Hamlin is reportedly showing signs of improvment and opening his eyes.

Twitter implemented policy in 2020 to disrupt misinformation about COVID-19. Weeks after Elon Musk took over the company in 2022, Twitter announced it would not longer implement the policy.

“It is particularly worrying that Twitter has rolled back its policy on Covid disinformation to reflect Elon Musk’s desperate need to prioritise controversy, engagement, and short-term advertising profits over the public good," Ahmed said. "Anti-vaxx lies are deadly and platforms must stop allowing dedicated spreaders of disinformation from abusing their platforms and the trust of other users.”