‘“Dangerous quack cures” for the coronavirus being shared online should be reported to social media companies immediately, the government has said.
Lemon juice, liquid silver and hot water are among the remedies being suggested in anti-vaccination Facebook groups that have hundreds of thousands of followers.
YouTube bloggers are also sharing theories that China created the virus as a bio-weapon to attack the US economy and comments are being spread online about the 5G network being able to control the oxygen supply of coronavirus patients.
New social media guidance drawn up by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) and endorsed by the culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, asks people not to reply to or share misinformation on social media, even if they want to point out it is wrong. This is to avoid spreading it further, as any engagement can place it in other people’s timelines.
Instead people are being asked to report misinformation to social media platforms and group administrators, and to share official NHS information as much as possible to push it into social media algorithms.
Suggestions that have featured on the Stop Mandatory Vaccination website, which has 180,000 followers in the UK and US, on how to treat a child with suspected coronavirus include elderberry syrup, placing sliced onions on the bottom of their feet and rubbing their back with lemon and lavender oil to draw the virus away from the brain. Colloidal silver, which can lead to skin turning a light bluish-grey, is another treatment being pushed online.
Dowden, who is also in charge of the country’s digital strategy, said: “I urge the industry to play their part too and act fast to stem the spread of misinformation on coronavirus on their platforms. But we can also all take action now by following these guidelines from the CCDH to tackle fake news in our everyday online lives.”’