Posted on March 11, 2020 by staff

Coronavirus fake news targeted by UK authorities


The UK authorities have put into action plans to counter the spread of fake news about the coronavirus.

The government has assembled a cross-department cyber response team to assess the extent, scope and impact of unverified information about the virus, which is spreading around the world and has put Italy on lockdown.

It is holding talks with social media companies about how to monitor and stem the spread of bad advice and misinformation.

“Defending the country from misinformation and digital interference is a top priority,” said Oliver Dowden, secretary of state for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

“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.”

Meanwhile NHS England is also working with social media to verify more than 800 accounts such as hospital trusts and local commissioning groups – helping direct people to official sources of information.

A spokesperson said the NHS has been “fighting bad advice and misinformation about the virus in the media and online”.

They added that the organisation had been working with Twitter to suspend a false account posing as a hospital and putting out inaccurate information about the number of coronavirus cases, and publicly condemning homeopaths promoting false treatments.

NHS England has also partnered with Google to direct concerned people as often as possible to the NHS website.

Facebook is also directing people to the NHS via search and news feeds. Boss Mark Zuckerberg said: “It’s important that everyone has a place to share their experiences and talk about the outbreak, but as our community standards make clear, it’s not okay to share something that puts people in danger.”