There have been false rumors circulating on social media about contact tracking apps that have been introduced by governments to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
We have looked at some of them and other dubious claims about the coronavirus.
The NHS app
In the UK, the NHS contract tracking app has been the focus of conspiracies and false rumors. Mobile phone software was introduced to help understand who an infected person may have spread the virus to, but a technical problem has occurred and the launch has been delayed.
- What if the NHS coronavirus tracers contact me?
A message that we saw being copied and pasted on Facebook asks friends of the poster to delete them as contacts from their phone and to cancel their friendship on Facebook since the app “will ask for permission to access all your contacts”.
This post misrepresents how the app works. It does not access a user’s phone contacts but instead records when two people who both have the app are at a certain distance from each other for a period of time longer than that specified.
Another variant that has been shared hundreds of times on Facebook says that app users who pass in front of someone who later experiences “flu” symptoms will automatically be quarantined, along with their entire family.
But users who receive a notification from the app who have found themselves close to someone who has developed symptoms should not automatically go to quarantine. If they live in a family where no one shows symptoms, they will be asked to follow the social distance advice and look for the symptoms.
This story, which was marked as containing “false information” by third-party Facebook fact-checkers, also states that you may be forced to make a vaccine under the new coronavirus law. There is no current legislation in the UK that could force you to take a vaccine.
- Bill Gates’ microchip complaint has been verified
- False image of the White House and displaced protest videos
A few weeks ago, Boris Johnson’s senior aide was the target of false rumors related to the contact tracking app. There was no truth in the social media posts that suggested that Dominic Cummings’ sister worked for a company that ran the app.
The Full Fact fact-checking organization conducted an investigation and concluded that the woman named was not her sister and the company named had not been involved in the app.
The development of the NHS contact monitoring app has been accompanied by all sorts of misinformation and conspiracy theories – but there are some real privacy issues. The UK has chosen to take a centralized route, but many other countries are developing decentralized apps. The team behind the UK app insisted that this path will provide the NHS with more valuable information on how the virus is spreading.
Tracking apps don’t require social distance
Contact the tracking features in an interview with an American doctor who says he “doesn’t believe Covid-19”.
When asked why there are distances, he says that one of the reasons may be to facilitate “location software – contact tracking programs”.
This seems to misunderstand the objectives of social distancing and contact traceability – and the use of any app to support it – which is to prevent the spread of the virus together with the loosening of the rules of social distancing.
Dr Kaufman suggests that the signal for “location software” is clearer if people are separated from each other. But that’s not how apps will work because they use your device’s unique digital signature no matter how close it is to another phone.
In the video Andrew Kaufman also explains his opposition to blockades and vaccinations.
Several uploads to this post have been removed from YouTube for violating its community guidelines.
A page administrator for a local group in Hampshire told the BBC that he had removed the video along with multiple anti-vaccination and anti-blocking posts in the past few days.
Another one-page administrator based in Cornwall said that controversial posts are fine, as long as the discussion remains “civil”.
Aspirin is not a Covid cure
While we are here, it is worth highlighting a final series of widely shared posts.
The almost identical Facebook rumors in multiple languages claim that Italy has discovered a cure for coronavirus. The posts erroneously claim that coronavirus is not a virus but a bacterium that causes deadly blood clots.
It is true that Covid-19 has led to blood clots in some of the most severe cases in patients with pneumonia. Bacterial infections develop after contracting a virus. But Covid-19 disease is caused by a virus.
Keep in mind that blood clots in the lungs, caused by ordinary flu pneumonia, may also appear, and that anyone who goes to hospital also has a higher risk of blood clots.
The posts continue to argue that antibiotics, aspirin and anticoagulants (often used to treat blood clots) can therefore cure coronavirus. They can’t – there is no known cure and the WHO warns against self-medication to cure the virus, even with antibiotics.
The sources of this information are apparently Italian doctors and the Italian ministry of health. We emailed the ministry for comment.
The messages have been around since mid-May in English, Tagalog, Russian and Spanish.
Additional reports from Olga Robinson and Alistair Coleman.
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