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How to stop the spread of false Covid-19 claims

'Fake news', half-truths and rumours about coronavirus are being spread on social media

Social media, in France and worldwide, has been awash with false information about the Covid-19 virus.

Following President Macron's latest televised address, here is how to spot information that is likely to be 'fake news' - including the most recent false reports about Level Four.

First, check the source - or, more commonly, that there is a verifiable source. A link to a trustworthy organisation should carry more weight than a claim attributed to 'a doctor I know', or [an often unnamed] 'researcher on a group fighting the coronavirus pandemic'.

A quick internet search should be able to confirm or deny the accuracy of an unattributed claim. Check information on coronavirus comes from a verifiable source, such as www.gouvernement.fr/info-coronavirus. Alternatively, if it is reported by reputable outlets, there's a good chance it is accurate. Otherwise, be wary.

Even if a source is mentioned, it is still worth checking online that it is being reported by reputable outlets.

One of the most common false Covid-19 claims is that drinking water every 15 minutes will flush the water "down through the throat and into the stomach. Once there, your stomach acid will kill all the virus. If you don’t drink enough water regularly, the virus can enter your windpipe and then the lungs. That’s very dangerous."

This 'discovery', the rumour claimed, was made at Stanford University. But a quick online search showed the institution has issued no such findings.

French public health body Inserm has posted an online video warning against fake coronavirus news:

The French Ministry of Health has repeatedly posted messages on social media fact-checking certain claims - including this one on Twitter to correct rumours that suggested cocaine cures Covid-19.

And there's this one, about garlic...

Or, this one, in which it refutes rumours about money and the virus.

The World Health Organisation has set up a web page correcting many of the false claims made about coronavirus. If it's on there, it's not true.

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