Boris warns Facebook and Twitter not to spread fake news about coronavirus


BORIS Johnson has warned social media giants including Facebook and Twitter not to spread fake news about coronavirus on social media.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock spoke to top executives yesterday about what they can do to make sure the public get the information they need during the crisis.

Social media giants have been told to help tackle fake news on coronavirus online

The PM said today after launching his doomsday battle plan to tackle the spread of the disease: “We have all got to be responsible.

“We’ve all got to be very responsible and the media has a very important role in this, particularly the social media and electronic media of all types,” he said.

“I’m sure that they will want to convey the right messages and convey the right balance of risk.”

Social media giants were said to be willing to engage and do what they can to stop fake stories going viral online, Government sources said today.

In the Government’s action plan today Brits were urged to only rely on information from trusted sources, such as the NHS, Public Health England, and Gov.UK websites.

Rumours have spread online including one that suggests drinking bleach could protect against the virus.

Twitter officials say they have begun to steer users to official information when they search for terms related to the coronavirus.

In a blog post on Wednesday Twitter said: “We’ve launched a new dedicated search prompt to ensure that when you come to the service for information about the #coronavirus, you’re met with credible, authoritative information first.”

Facebook says it’s placing warning labels on fake news and sending notifications to users who have shared debunked content.

Google says it’s promoting authoritative sources such as health experts, public health institutions or media outlets at the top of search results and in “watch next” panels on YouTube.

YouTube has invested heavily in prioritising videos from legitimate sources to reduce the spread of misinformation, Google said.

The number of cases of British coronavirus cases leapt to 51 today – moments after Boris Johnson revealed his battle plan to kill off the deadly bug in Britain.

Soldiers could be deployed to guard vital sites so the police are free to focus on “maintaining public order, the Government said today in a 25-page doomsday plan.

Up to one in five could be off work sick during the peak of the crisis, it was predicted today.

The PM has this morning launched his battle plan to save as many lives as possible while ensuring Britain goes about business as usual.

It includes sweeping measures which will be considered in the coming weeks, such as shutting down schools, banning mass gatherings,  cancelling NHS operations and encouraging people to work from home.

The PM told a packed press conference at No10 earlier as the number of cases rose to 51 today: “The army is of course always ready as and when, but that is under the worst case scenario.”

Plans are in place for anything from a mild pandemic “through to a severe prolonged pandemic as experienced in 1918 known as Spanish Flu.

Police could also be told to switch their focus to only tackle “serious crime” if emergency services start to buckle under pressure.

But Brits were warned that it is “more likely than not that the UK will be significantly affected” with up to 80 per cent of the population catching it.

The Government’s draconian plan said the killer bug has “the potential to spread extensively”, but the great majority of people will have just mild symptoms.

Boris said this morning it was “highly likely we will see a growing number of UK cases” and he “understood” the widespread concern among the British public.

Today’s warnings are not what will happen but the “steps that we could take, at the right time, on the basis of scientific advice”, he added.

He again stressed that the best thing Brits can do is to wash their hands for 20 seconds to stop the spread of infection.

But he was confident that Brits would step up to the plate to the “national challenge” – and the virus can be beaten.

“The potential is there for something that our country has to get through,” he added.

“I have no doubt we have the resources, the health services, the expertise.

“I am very confident that British public can see what the balance of risk is.”