The New York Times
February 12, 2020

False claims about the coronavirus are spreading across the internet, The New York Times reported, in videos that show people fleeing the outbreak or experiencing horrendous side effects.

The false information generally comes from fringe groups and are sowing confusion stoking fear about the virus.

“I am overwhelmed by the volume of all the messages,” Amelia Jamison told The New York Times. “So little information is being confirmed.” 

Jamison, a faculty research assistant at the Maryland Center for Health Equity, has been keeping an eye on the deluge of misinformation about the virus. Some of the viral videos contain reports that the Federal Emergency Management Agency was proposing martial law to contain the spread, others claim that drinking chlorine dioxide, a bleaching agent, would get rid of it, and still others have graphic video footage of an infected man vomiting blood on a train. 

According to The New York Times, TikTok, where many of the videos originated, said it does not permit information that could cause harm to the public, Twitter announced it was adjusting its search function to provide authoritative health sources, and Facebook said it would remove false information from the platform. 

But, experts think the damage may have already been done, leading to the distrust of medical institutions and vaccines. Jamison’s previous research has explored this “vaccine hesitancy,” which has led to a surge in preventable diseases, like measles. 

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