G&T and saltwater: The fake coronavirus ‘cures’ officials are tacklingLara-Joyce Roa
G&T and saltwater: The fake coronavirus ‘cures’ officials are tackling.
A number of rumours and false claims about coronavirus have appeared online and received hundreds of shares.
The government is hoping to counter disinformation.
The UK government is trying to tackle fake news about the coronavirus outbreak by setting up an expert team to counter disinformation.
False claims about a coronavirus vaccine and bogus cures have circulated on social media, often attracting hundreds of shares.
Ministers hope the new team will help to limit the spread of disinformation, which refers to the deliberate creation and spread of false or manipulated information intended to deceive and mislead audiences.
One such rumour is a Facebook post which claimed a vaccine exists for the new form of coronavirus, which is false.
The post has been shared more than 500 times.
Another claim is that a Chinese respiratory expert found saline solution can kill the virus, and that people should use it to rinse their mouths out.
Shelves of tonic water were empty in a south London Sainsbury’s. Pic: Rob Powell.
- Three deaths in patients who tested positive with the virus
- Victims were in Berkshire, Milton Keynes and Manchester
- Sunday saw a rise of 72 cases to reach a total of 278 – the highest increase in cases in a 24-hour period
- Supermarkets have placed restrictions on items including pasta, anti-bacterial wipes and hand soap in a bid to prevent shoppers from stockpiling
- Foreign Office advised against all but essential travel to northern Italy
- People returning from affected areas in Italy told to self-isolate regardless of whether they have symptoms
- The virus-stricken Grand Princess cruise ship with more than 140 Britons on board is due to dock in Oakland, California on Monday
It has also been falsely claimed the quinine in tonic water will help to fight coronavirus – which has led to some people stockpiling the drink.
The special government unit will first try to assess the scope, impact and extent of the fake news.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said defending the country from disinformation was a “top priority”.
“As part of our ongoing work to tackle these threats we have brought together expert teams to make sure we can respond effectively should these threats be identified in relation to the spread of COVID-19,” he said.
“This work includes regular engagement with the social media companies, which are well placed to monitor interference and limit the spread of disinformation, and will make sure we are on the front foot to act if required.”
In 2018, then-prime minister Theresa May brought in a new unit to help Poland tackle Russian “disinformation” following the Salisbury nerve agent attack.
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