Covid-19 Misinformation Round-up Week of March 30

During this challenging time we face both a pandemic and an infodemic, making it increasingly difficult for us to find reliable information on this coronavirus.

Unfortunately, our traditional media outlets are as guilty of publishing inaccurate, irresponsible reports on Covid19 as users on social media platforms.


Given sham press complaints-handler IPSO’s track record of inaction and complacency over the last five years – we are not hopeful that they are taking any steps to ensure newspapers report on this virus responsibly.


We are monitoring the accuracy and ethical standards of reporting on this Coronavirus and will be sending out a weekly summary list of  inaccurate reports from UK newspapers, together with analysis from the independent fact-checking campaign Full Fact.


We at Hacked Off are committed to limiting the dissemination of potentially life-threatening misinformation in any way we can.

Below are some of the most egregious examples of misreporting and disinformation since the outbreak:

17/02/2020. The Daily Express. “Did scientists know about coronavirus before outbreak? ‘Disease X’ warning revealed” 

Claim: Scientists knew about the new coronavirus long ago and called it “Disease X”.

Full Fact finding: They didn’t. This is a misunderstanding about the phrase “Disease X”, which the WHO used to denote an unknown serious new disease that might cause a pandemic.


26/03/2020. The Sun. “Coronavirus symptom tracker app suggests 6.6MILLION Brits already have Covid-19”

26/03/2010. Daily Telegraph (print edition) “Data from the free Covid Symptom Tracker suggests that one in 10 Britons may now be carrying the virus.”

26/03/2010. Mail Online. “Coronavirus symptom tracker claims up to 6.6MILLION people in Britain may already have the life-threatening infection”

Claim: Data from a new app which tracks symptoms of Covid-19 claims that up to 6.6 million people in the UK have the disease.

Full Fact finding: This data cannot be extrapolated to the UK population. The number of people with Covid-19 may be higher, lower, or the same as claimed.


26/03/2020. Daily Star. “Fears 5G wifi networks could be acting as ‘accelerator’ for disease”

Claim: 5G WiFi networks could be responsible for the rapid spread of the new coronavirus.

Full Fact finding: This is not true. There is no evidence that 5G WiFi networks are linked to the new coronavirus.



Every week we will send out a new list of inaccurate or misleading reports. Our goal is to keep you as informed as possible at this difficult time.


N.B. We are aware that a spike in domestic violence cases is expected whilst victims are isolated with their abusers –  this is an area we know the press cover irresponsibly and we will be highlighting examples of this in the next edition. 


The Government have called for public vigilance and support in helping combat the spread of false information about coronavirus.

Please visit our designated website forum where you can flag Coronavirus misreporting in our newspapers, both online and in print. 


Thank you for helping us keep up the fight for a truthful, trustworthy press.

The Hacked Off Team

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