News | Published March 30 2020

UK government to tackle spread of coronavirus misinformation

A specialist unit has been put in place in the Cabinet Office to prevent the spread of fake news surrounding coronavirus.

According to culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, measures have been put in place "to stem the spread of falsehoods and rumours, which could cost lives".

He continued: "We need people to follow expert medical advice and stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.

"It is vital that this message hits home and that misinformation and disinformation which undermines it is knocked down quickly."

The rapid response unit is cooperating with social media firms to remove content, which is deemed harmful, in addition to fake news pertaining to Covid-19.

It is believed the unit is dealing with up to ten incidents per day.

The unit is focusing on a range of sources, including those issuing false medical information in addition to those who are running phishing scams.

Hours after the government issued texts to encourage people to stay at home, a number of fake versions of the message were also sent out.

Fines have been issued for those who are found to break the rules.

A government campaign called “Don’t Feed the Beast” has also been relaunched by the government in an attempt to encourage people to consider what they share online.

The announcement follows the former chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee demanding that sharing misinformation about the Covid-19 spread be made an offence.

Damian Collins, a conservative MP said: "The information contagion around Covid-19 is so dangerous, because there is so much that people don't know and so much happening all the time, that it is very easy for false rumours to take hold and spread."

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Authored by

Alice Jaspars
Culture Editor
March 30 2020

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