Crack down on false coronavirus information online

The government has announced that specialist units are working at pace to combat false and misleading narratives about coronavirus.

The Rapid Response Unit, operating from within the Cabinet Office and No10, is tackling a range of harmful narratives online - from purported ‘experts’ issuing dangerous misinformation to criminal fraudsters running phishing scams.

Currently, up to 70 incidents a week, often false narratives containing multiple misleading claims, are being identified and resolved. The government has also said that the successful ‘Don’t Feed the Beast’ public information campaign will also relaunch next week, to empower people to question what they read online. When false narratives are identified, the Rapid Response Unit coordinates with departments to deploy the appropriate response, including a direct rebuttal on social media, working with platforms to remove harmful content and ensuring public health campaigns are promoted through reliable sources.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “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. We’re working with social media companies, and I’ll be pressing them this week for further action to stem the spread of falsehoods and rumours which could cost lives.”

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