Whether it’s a message on your uncle’s account or a picture your friend shared, false stories about the coronavirus seem to be everywhere, according to BBC teams that check and recheck the most recent and viral examples of incorrect information circulating on social media.
A false message from Bill Gates
A long message attributed to Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates encouraging people to think positively about their lives during the coronavirus pandemic has been shared thousands of times in several countries. He went on certified accounts, national newspaper websites, and the Instagram account of the model Naomi Campbell.
But we do know that Bill Gates has nothing to do with it. Someone, however, approached the BBC claiming to be the author of the message. Mohammed Ali of London said he posted the message on Facebook on March 16 but did not attribute it to Mr. Gates.
It is not clear that he was the first person to post the message, but we did not find an earlier version on Facebook accounts. As to how it turned into a Bill Gates message, nothing is definite. According to the Crowdtangle social media analysis tool, it was on March 22 that the message was attributed to Mr. Gates for the first time.
A deceptive video about food donations
A video that has gathered more than 10 million views in a few days claims to show food packages left on the street for those who need them during the coronavirus epidemic. Some articles claim that it was filmed in Turkey, while others claim that it shows a city in Iraq or India. Most people rent the video to show how their countries are helping the poor.
The film is authentic, but it is two months old, so the messages are misleading. The donations were not intended for those affected by the coronavirus, but for the victims of an earthquake. To get to the bottom of this, BBC verification specialists were able to identify the location of the video after noticing a shop or billboard with the words “very cheap” in Turkish.
From there, the clip was attributed to a longer, live broadcast of an event in the city of Konya, Turkey, uploaded to Facebook on January 25. The same sign, the same van, and the same trees in the background correspond in both. The charity behind the event confirmed that the video was not related to Covid-19.
Snapshots of fake messages that appear to have come from the British government and threaten people with fines for leaving their homes are circulating on social media. They claim that the government is monitoring the population and imposing penalties on those who leave their homes. One, described by the Greater Manchester police as false, said: “You have been fined £ 3,550.73 for leaving your home without reason.”
This week, the government sent a text explaining the new rules. But he claims that “everyone else who claims to belong to the British government … is false”. It is unclear whether scammers sent these messages or whether they were merely fake screenshots.
Helicopters do not spray disinfectant
It is a rumor that will not go away and has crossed international borders. A message in various forms has toured WhatsApp and elsewhere: it tells people to stay inside because, from 11:30 p.m., helicopters will spray disinfectant in the air to eradicate the coronavirus. But there is no evidence that it happened or is happening.
A recent message was sent to a group of doctors and nurses in a London hospital. Similar versions of the message – helicopters spraying disinfectant – have appeared elsewhere, including Kenya, Italy, Russia, and Nepal, according to BBC Monitoring, which followed the spread of the rumor.
A lot of things happen on WhatsApp, so it’s challenging to know who is broadcasting them. It may sound unlikely, but people share and believe it often because it was passed on to them by someone they trust, such as a friend or colleague.
A video emerged claiming to show Italian police arresting a man for violating lockdown rules, and a version posted on Twitter in India garnered more than 750,000 views. However, it was filmed in Brazil and showed the arrest of a man in Sao Paulo for a reason unrelated to the coronavirus. The same sequence appears on the Globo newspaper’s website, which reported on the man’s arrest. And the police are wearing T-shirts – It’s too cold in Italy in March to be in a T-shirt.
A voice note in Arabic criticizing the state of a famous Jerusalem hospital was posted on WhatsApp, with a photo showing patients lying on the floor. Several Arab news sites have used the picture in articles on how the Israeli hospital is struggling to cope with the pandemic.
However, the hospital denied the information, saying the images do not show their center. BBC Trending took a closer look and found its exact location in Madrid. These patients are believed to have coronavirus.
A Spanish Twitter account first published it. The logos on the hospital pillows and sheets correspond to the bedding of hospitals in Madrid.