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How to Stop Your Boomer Parents From Spreading Fake Coronavirus News

Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.Fake news about coronavirus is so bad that on Monday morning the National Security Council took the unprecedented step of using Twitter to debunk a message that claims a national quarantine is about to come into effect. The warning, published on Twitter late…

How to Stop Your Boomer Parents From Spreading Fake Coronavirus News

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Fake news about coronavirus is so bad that on Monday morning the National Security Council took the unprecedented step of using Twitter to debunk a message that claims a national quarantine is about to come into effect.

The warning, published on Twitter late on Sunday night, said that “text message rumors of a national #quarantine are FAKE. There is no national lockdown.”

The warning came in response to a viral message being shared on multiple platforms that suggested: “In 48 to 72 hours the president will evoke what is called the Stafford Act [and] order a two-week mandatory quarantine for the nation.” The message cites “my military friends in DC” as the source of the story.

The Stafford Act is the law President Donald Trump used last week to declare the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency. While the Act has been changed in recent years to give the CDC greater powers to quarantine people exposed to infectious diseases, the primary power to enforce quarantines resides with states and localities.

Rumors like this one are a global problem. As well as fighting the coronavirus, the World Health Organization says it is fighting an “infodemic” of misinformation and fake news. Much of that misinformation is created to trick people into visiting malicious websites, but a lot of what’s out there is being shared irresponsibly by people who think they are doing the right thing.

In Ireland, where schools and pubs have been closed and large gatherings are forbidden, a viral WhatsApp message was shared widely over the weekend, claiming the army was about to be deployed to the streets and the country was going to go into a “statis (sic) red emergency.” No such status exists.

The message contains multiple factual and grammatical errors, but people quickly shared it with family and friends.

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The message was shared so widely that Ireland’s Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the head of the Defence Forces Vice Admiral Mike Mellet called on citizens to stop sharing misinformation on WhatsApp.

In the U.K., the Department of Health had to issue a warning after advice that claims to be from a doctor at Stanford University began to circulate widely on social media.

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