Here's A Running List Of The Latest Hoaxes Spreading About The Coronavirus
Misinformation, hoaxes, and snake oil cures have all been rampant online since the outbreak of the coronavirus.
An outbreak of the novel coronavirus around the globe has spawned countless online rumors and hoaxes, promising false cures and causing panic amid uncertainty.
BuzzFeed News is keeping a running list of debunked hoaxes. For a previous list of debunks from when the outbreak started, go here.
Before passing on any online rumor, take the time to verify it. This can be done by checking how recently an account has been created, keeping a close eye on information from your local authorities, or searching key words to find another source.
1. Text messages attributed to various officials falsely claim cities will go into complete shutdown. Authorities have since clarified that the information is not true.
2. Another fake message claiming to be connected to the UN is spreading hoax claims about a quarantine.
The National Security Council has said that those rumors are false.
4. US authorities have been cracking down on fake cures for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus — including colloidal silver, vitamins, teas, and essential oils. None of these are approved treatments or preventative measures against the disease.
5. Beware of emails purporting to be from HR departments, executives, and health organizations. Hackers have been using the virus to access computers and steal credentials.
6. A viral post claiming your stomach acid will kill the coronavirus if you drink enough water has some very bad advice, according to various experts.
The post was sent around as a group message and text, later becoming a meme that made the same inaccurate claims.
The best prevention advice is to avoid exposure by practicing social distancing, washing your hands regularly, and avoiding touching your face, mouth, and eyes. If you feel ill, seek medical attention. And instead of relying on viral chain letters, consult the CDC, the World Health Organization, or the real coronavirus advice being offered by Stanford Medicine.
7. A YouTube video with nearly half a million views falsely and dangerously said that inhaling hot air from a hair dryer can help cure the coronavirus. Inhaling hot air will not thwart COVID-19.
Some elected officials have repeated this false claim.
8. A viral WhatsApp post falsely claimed four people sick with COVID-19 got worse after taking anti-inflammatory drugs. It's not true, the Journal reported, and authorities have debunked the message.
On March 19, the World Health Organization officially stated that ibuprofen is safe.
11. A hoax falsely claiming that emissions from crematoriums in China could be seen from space was first debunked in February. The images were not taken in real time, PolitiFact reports, and most likely come from burning coal and oil.
12. A fake screenshot warning people to not open their doors to strangers has been circulating in New Jersey, the UK, and France.
13. Companies have been selling "immunity boosting" products, hinting they can stop the virus spread. According to the World Health Organization, Vitamin C, Zinc, and similar treatments don't have any known effects on preventing contraction of COVID-19. US authorities have been cracking down on products that make false promises about curing or treating the coronavirus.
"The ad was posted a few weeks ago with the messaging pointing to building a strong immunity defense against the common flu," a GNC spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. "As the environment has changed amid the spread of COVID-19, we have taken down the ad."
14. According to an open-source analysis from independent journalist Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat, this tweet is only partially accurate. Yes, the water in Venice seems to have become clearer, but some of the images — including the image with the swans — are not from Venice.
15. Beware of scam telephone calls asking for payment, and never provide your banking information over the phone unless you've personally verified who's on the other line.
16. In the early days of the outbreak, people with political interests in China began spreading conspiracies on the origin of the coronavirus. Some falsely claimed it came from a lab in Wuhan, others baselessly said it was stolen from a lab in Canada.
Now, new research shows that the virus evolved organically. "Our analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus," scientists have concluded.
17. Many images of military trucks or personnel in the streets are fake or taken out of context. As a UK Member of Parliament pointed out on Facebook, group texts claiming the British army has been called in to help with the response to COVID-19 don't actually show the UK. Many similar texts have been circulating.
In the US, a Pentagon spokesperson said that tank deliveries "have nothing to do" with COVID-19.
And in Canada, authorities said the equipment was "for an exercise that is now cancelled."
18. Do not believe texts claiming to share insider information from a Goldman Sachs investment call. "The comments being circulated on social media platforms attributing statistics on Covid-19 to Goldman Sachs were prepared by an unidentified author, were not authorized, and contain erroneous information and attribution," a spokesperson for Goldman Sachs told BuzzFeed News.
19. There is absolutely no evidence to tie the coronavirus to 5G technology, despite what misleading YouTube videos say.
20. No, doctors are not getting mugged in London. The UK Metropolitan police said it is "not aware of any recent reports of this nature."
21. The screenshot claiming Russia unleashed 500 lions to keep people indoors is fake. It was made with a free tool that allows anyone to create a fake "breaking news" image.
22. The Dutch Air Force is not going to disinfect the entire country with helicopters. "It's not true," the Netherlands Police said on Twitter.
23. Do not purchase home testing kits for COVID-19. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved any home testing kits for the virus.
24. A fake document is circulating online purporting to show presidential hopeful Joe Biden diagnosed with COVID-19. In addition to being refuted by Biden's communications director, the barcode on the document matched one from a sample version. The document previously circulated on 4chan, a website notorious for spreading hoaxes.
25. Fake images purporting to be medical advice from UNICEF are circulating on social media and group chats. "I can confirm this is not an official communication from UNICEF," a spokesperson told BuzzFeed News.
"We continue to see erroneous online messages circulating in several languages around the world, purporting to be a UNICEF communication and indicating, among other things, that avoiding ice cream and other cold foods can help prevent the onset of the disease. This is, of course, wholly untrue," the spokesperson, Joe English, said.
"To members of the public, we ask that you seek accurate information about how to keep yourself and your family safe from verified sources, such as UNICEF or WHO, government health officials, and trusted healthcare professionals; and that you refrain from sharing information from untrustworthy or unverified sources."
Joey D'Urso contributed reporting to this story.