Coronavirus myths and hoaxes are floating all over social media. At best, they’re a bad attempt at a joke — but at worst, they’re the most dangerous type of misinformation, and could encourage false understandings of the new virus, or even encourage unnecessary hysteria.
Rep. Adam Schiff was one of many politicians to condemn coronavirus misinformation, tweeting on March 3, “Coronavirus misinformation is rampant, and has led to discrimination against Asian-American communities and businesses. Listen to advice from experts. Racism and xenophobia are destructive and only further endanger our public health.”
Here’s an ongoing list of coronavirus myths and hoaxes spreading around on social media:
MYTH: Coronavirus Is Spreading Because of ‘5G’
No, coronavirus is not spreading because of the 5G mobile network. Conspiracy theorists on Facebook videos have falsely claimed that the 5G network created the virus by “sucking oxygen out of people’s lungs.” This doesn’t even seem to make theoretical sense, but many on Facebook have shared and commented on these videos.
In one such hoax video, a woman says, “5G absorbs oxygen, and that’s really important to know. “On your oxygen molecules, the little electrons, with 5G they start to oscillate. So 5G is absorbing the oxygen and then your hemoglobin can’t take up the oxygen. So how long do you think it’s going to take the human body to fall over because it suddenly cannot take up oxygen into cells?”
Facebook has confirmed that it’s making an effort to remove misinformation about the coronavirus as quickly as possible. With that said, it’s still possible you’ll come across false information about the virus.
MYTH: Coronavirus Is a ‘Hoax’ Being Spread by the Democratic Establishment
No, coronavirus is not a hoax being spread by the Democratic establishment. However, it is true that there has been a lot of back and forth over the apparent politicizing of the virus. And yes, Trump did say that the coronavirus was the Democrats’ “new hoax.”
Specifically, Trump said at a rally in late February,
Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. You know that, right? Coronavirus. They’re politicizing it. We did one of the great jobs . . . They tried the impeachment hoax. That was on a perfect conversation. They tried anything, they tried it over and over, they’ve been doing it since you got in. It’s all turning, they lost, it’s all turning. Think of it. Think of it. And this is their new hoax. But you know, we did something that’s been pretty amazing. We’re 15 people [cases of coronavirus infection] in this massive country. And because of the fact that we went early, we went early, we could have had a lot more than that . . . we’ve lost nobody, and you wonder, the press is in hysteria mode.
To be clear, he did not call the coronavirus itself a hoax.
MYTH: The Coronavirus Vaccine Already Exists
No, the coronavirus vaccine does not already exist. Yet for some reason, this myth is continually perpetuated on Twitter, either through a misunderstanding or through a deliberate attempt to spread false information.
“I don’t know who needs to hear this, but Corona virus has been in the United States for almost a decade, if not longer,” one user tweeted. “The vaccine exists, this is all just a big political game. Can we please use our brains?”
MYTH: Coronavirus Was Made in a Laboratory
No, there’s no proof that coronavirus was made in a laboratory as a type of germ warfare. Videos have circulated on social media claiming that coronavirus is a bioweapon that escaped a lab, with some saying the “bioweapon” was purposefully released, and others claiming it was an accident. This is categorically un-substantiated. There’s no proof whatsoever that any country or group manufactured coronavirus.
This is perhaps the most insidious myth being spread, because of how many verified Twitter accounts are pushing it. Joanne Wright, a woman currently running for Congress, tweeted on Feb. 27, “The Corona virus is a man made virus created in a Wuhan laboratory. Ask @BillGate who financed it.”
Again, there’s no evidence whatsoever that coronavirus came from a laboratory, or that it’s a product of biological warfare.