Almost as soon as the seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak became clear, misinformation and conspiracy theories relating to it began spreading. Not surprisingly, Facebook is an absolute hub of inaccurate information. Wired took a look at what is being shared across various groups on the platform.
This fake news has spread through “cure” books on Amazon, WhatsApp viral texts, and even the mainstream media. Now, according to data taken from CrowdTangle, a Facebook-owned tool that tracks the diffusion of viral stories, a small army of Facebook fringe groups are following suit and pivoting to a new hot topic: coronavirus misinformation. The posts, which are filling innocuous Facebook groups normally dedicated to political discussions and flight deals, are a strange evolution of conspiracy theories that have been knocking around the internet for years. One much-mooted theory, for example, is that the coronavirus has been caused by radiation from 5G masts. One of these posts, on Smart Meter Health problems UK, garnered 191 reactions, 188 comments and 86 shares – eleven times the normal amount for the group.