Coronavirus and fake news: UK government to tackle misinformation

The government is tackling misinformation being spread about the coronavirus pandemic. 

Cabinet Office’s rapid response unit is working alongside social media firms to remove fake news as well as harmful content.

It will attempt to tackle a range of online issues such as criminals running phishing scams via email and “experts” who claim to be legitimate but are issuing false medical information.

The special unit is dealing with as many as 10 incidents each day.

Alongside emails, text messages are also being sent out by scammers to target people who are worried about the coronavirus outbreak.

On 24th March, for example, the government began sending text messages to people, urging them to stay at home. Hours later, numerous fake versions of the message began appearing on social media sites.

The only official text message sent to people by the government

Messages are also being sent that contain survival guides, offers on masks and false COVID-19 treatments such as CBD oil.

One of those messages that stated people had been fined for breaking the lockdown rules contained a link that is likely to take you through dodgy websites that attempt to install malware or steal private and personal information.

Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, said “we need people to follow expert medical advice and stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.”

The government have also decided to re-launch the “Don’t Feed the Beast” campaign which urges people to think carefully before they post content online.

It comes after the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee’s former chairman called it an offence to knowingly share misinformation about COVID-19.

Social media companies have announced efforts to fight the spread of misinformation about the virus outbreak.

Mr Collins is also launching an online service that allows members of the public to post screenshots of any information they’ve been sent relating to COVID-19.

 

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