The actors on TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy aren’t real doctors, but they use real hospital supplies like gowns, masks, and gloves as props. With production suspended, many of the shows are donating their stash of personal protective equipment to local hospitals, Quartz reported. —L.L.
A series of internet videos and social media posts reported last week that police had raided Oprah Winfrey’s home and arrested her for sex trafficking. None of the claims were remotely true: It appears a group of conspiracy theorists manufactured an elaborate hoax.
The fake reports, which included supposed police body camera footage, appear to have started on YouTube and Facebook and gone viral on Twitter. Within hours, Winfrey was the top trending topic on the social media platform. Some accounts even falsely claimed that Tom Hanks faked his COVID-19 infection because he had been implicated in Winfrey’s crimes.
Winfrey took to Twitter in the early hours of the morning to reassure fans: “Just got a phone call that my name is trending. And being trolled for some awful FAKE thing. It’s NOT TRUE. Haven’t been raided, or arrested. Just sanitizing and self-distancing with the rest of the world. Stay safe everybody.”
Daniel Radcliffe, the star of the Harry Potter movies, also recently found himself the subject of a hoax naming him as the first celebrity to test positive for the new coronavirus. The group that started the rumor about Radcliffe on March 10 created a fake Twitter account called @BBCNewsTonight and put the BBC logo on the tweet.
Internet hoaxes have been around for as long as, well, the internet, but social media speeds up their dissemination. As people isolate themselves to avoid COVID-19 and spend even more time on social media, hoaxes and false information seem to be proliferating at an even greater rate.
To slow the spread of misinformation, Twitter announced last Wednesday it would crack down on accounts that spread false stories about the coronavirus. Pinterest decided to block all searches for “coronavirus” the week before. And the Federal Emergency Management Agency has started a “Coronavirus Rumor Control” site to debunk potentially harmful myths. —Collin Garbarino