Twitter users almost certainly believed Daniel Radcliffe has coronavirus. How?
Misinformation on coronavirus spreads like wildfire, and this time, it has roped in Daniel Radcliffe. A viral tweet claimed that the famous Harry Potter actor had tested positive for deadly COVID-19 disease, leading many to worry about his health. However, later, it was found that the post was actually fake and Radcliffe is completely healthy. Here's what went down.
Fake BBC News tweets about Radcliffe, fools users
Just recently, a fake 'BBC Breaking News' account made the false claim of Radcliffe having tested positive for coronavirus. Even though the account was not verified, its message appeared so legit that several Twitter users were fooled into believing that Radcliffe actually suffered from the disease. The post was retweeted 762 times and liked 1,000+ times within the first few hours of its appearing.
Here's what the false BBC tweet read
"BREAKING: Daniel Radcliffe tests positive for coronavirus," the false tweet said. "The actor is said to be the first famous person to be publicly confirmed."
Plus, it also linked to an official BBC page
Notably, the inclusion of a link to the official BBC News alert page made it even difficult for users to identify the post as fake. Opening the link led users to a BBC page, which had not been updated since 2017. Further, the fake account also had the seemingly legit @BBCNewsTonight username and the official logo of the British broadcaster.
Radcliffe's spokesperson refuted the claim, Twitter suspended the account
As the fake tweet spread, a publicist representing Radcliffe issued a response saying that the claims are "not true." Meanwhile, Twitter took action against the fake account and suspended it permanently for violating its rules against platform manipulation. The false tweet was taken down at least after seven hours of being posted, which led many to question Twitter's ability to act swiftly against misinformation.
NYT journalist among those who fanned the fake news
In fact, New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman and Politico editorial director Blake Hounshell were also among those who were fooled by the fake news of Radcliffe having coronavirus. Both have since apologized for spreading the misinformation.
BuzzFeed got in touch with the people behind this post
Subsequently, the folks at BuzzFeed got in touch with the people who claimed to have shared the fake tweet in a group chat. The people shared tweet's engagement and impression data to prove they were behind the post and noted that they did it because it is funny and they wanted to manipulate people's minds to show how the internet has lowered people's IQ.