AUSTRALIA’S chief health officer has warned that “we are not immune to fake news”.
The warning comes amid a string of “bogus” claims and misinformation on social media.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has said it receives more than 10,000 fake stories each day, and has flagged the problem on Twitter and Facebook, while the US Department of Health and Human Services has warned people to check their “health and safety” posts and news feeds.
The ABC’s national news correspondent Emma Ransom said she believed the latest spate of fake news was “a big warning sign”.
“It’s a warning sign that people are being manipulated,” Ms Ransom told AM.
“There are fake news outlets that are just taking advantage of the fact that people can get into trouble and that can cause them harm.”
‘Fake news is like the virus’ The ABC understands that the latest hoax was a tweet claiming that the government was closing schools, with a message saying: “Schools will close soon for a few weeks until we can fix the problem”.
Ms Raff said that “it is quite common for people to send out these sorts of tweets”, but that it was “quite different to fake stories” that “have been circulated to spread misinformation”.
“The fake news is just like the viral viral news, it is very easy to spread,” she said.
“We are not so immune to it, we are not a perfect nation, we have a lot of work to do to ensure that we’re not at the mercy of fake stories that people send out.”
Ms Raffe said she had “received several complaints” from people about fake stories being posted on social networking sites, such as Facebook.
“They just like to do things like send you this fake news,” she added.
The “fake news” she was referring to, which appeared on social network news site Facebook, was from the fake news site The Guardian, which has been reported as “fake”.
Ms Tynan said the Australian government was “very concerned” about the situation and that it “must be a priority to get this fake content out of our system”.
“This has been a huge problem in terms of spreading misinformation about vaccines, and it’s now affecting schools,” she told AM, warning that “our children are being bullied” for being vaccinated.
Ms Rafe said there were concerns about the issue because the problem had “been going on for quite some time”.
The ABS has received more than 110,000 reports of fake health and safety posts, including about 15,000 from parents who received messages saying their children were being “threatened or harassed” for vaccination.
The ABS said it had received a “number of reports of hoaxes and misinformation”, including “tweets and posts” about vaccination.
“These reports are often very concerning, especially when they are directed towards children and young people,” the agency said in a statement.
For more information on this, please contact the relevant departments.”