Cyber

MOD Team To Tackle Coronavirus Fake News And Scams

The Government is working to combat misinformation amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has sent a team to the Cabinet Office to help stop online misinformation being spread over the coronavirus crisis.

The group, part of the MOD's COVID Support Force, will help to identify and tackle fake online news about the pandemic and will also try to halt the increasing number of fraudulent phishing scams.

It comes as the Government's coronavirus information service on WhatsApp has been expanded to better tackle myths and disinformation surrounding the virus.

The application itself has introduced new, stricter limits on message forwarding in a bid to try and stop the spread of fake news.

Now, when users receive a message that has already been frequently forwarded, they will only be able to forward it to one chat at a time, rather than five.

“We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation," WhatsApp said.

The Facebook-owned messaging also service said it is testing a feature which would offer users more information about frequently forwarded messages reaching their device.

Members of $ Regiment RLC deliver 40,000 surgical masks to St Thomas' Hospital in London (Picture: MOD).
More than 2,600 military personnel are deployed in response to the coronavirus outbreak (Picture: MOD).

Misinformation that has spread during the outbreak has included the role of the military and conspiracy theories surrounding the new 5G network. 

Earlier this week, Downing Street hit out at Russian “disinformation” after a state-run news agency claimed Boris Johnson would soon be put on a ventilator after he was admitted to hospital with coronavirus. 

Russia’s RIA-Novosti had cited a “source close to the leadership” of the NHS.

The Prime Minister's spokesman said ministers are working with social media companies to “press for further action to stem the further spread of falsehood and rumours”.

Cover image: MOD.