Viral Social Media Posts Offer False Coronavirus Tips

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tags: public health, misinformation, coronavirus

As the U.S. and countries around the world work to address the pandemic spread of COVID-19, posts disseminated by tens of thousands on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are feeding misinformation to people about how to avoid and self-test for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The posts provide a series of supposed tips about the virus, such as wrongly instructing people to hold their breath to gauge whether they’ve been infected and falsely suggesting that water consumption can kill the virus. Similar claims were promoted in a text-based image posted on the Instagram account of actress Debra Messing, which has since been deleted. They were also shared widely in screenshots on Twitter.

The posts in some cases cite “Taiwan experts” or “Japanese doctors,” and many begin by falsely sourcing the text to “STANFORD HOSPITAL BOARD.” Stanford Health Care has debunked that attribution. 

Editor’s note: is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.

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