As fear begins to spread about the Coronavirus, so are the fake social media items about the virus.
In New South Wales today the state government was forced to issue a statement to say that a social media item that warned people about eating certain food and visiting specific suburbs was fake. Also fake was the reference to a non-existent ‘Department of Diseasology Parramatta.’
“NSW Health has been made aware of a social media post that is being widely circulated warning people to not consume certain foods or visit certain locations in Sydney.”
“This post has not originated from NSW Health or any related entity. Further, there is no such entity as the “Department of Diseasology Parramatta”. NSW Health would like to assure the community that the locations mentioned in this post pose no risk to visitors, and there have been no “positive readings” at train stations.”
Late in the day a person created a fake news item, using the 7NEWS Sydney branding, to state that a person in the Macarthur region had presented themselves to Campbelltown Hospital and had tested positive to the Coronavirus.
The fake news item gave the impression that the content had been posted to the 7NEWS Sydney Facebook page. The fake story was not posted to the 7NEWS Facebook page, nor was the story published by any news outlet in Sydney or Australia.
During a time of increased fear, people should be hyper-alert to misinformation and fake news.
If you’re unsure about a story, check directly with the news outlet or contact the relevant government outlet to confirm the news.
Or, if you don’t feel comfortable contacting the news outlet or government body, quickly scan other news outlets to see if they’re reporting the story. A quick search of Google or Twitter might also help.
Fake news on social media can very quickly move off social media, and create alarm in the community.