An editorial director has hit out at social media users who shared a fake regional news post about the best outdoor places for a “w**k.”
Kent Online published a topical guide to the “best open places to take a walk” in the county while maintaining a safe distance from others during the coronavirus lockdown.
But a Facebook post about the story was then doctored so that it read “best open places to take a w**k.”
The forgery prompted editorial director Ian Carter to take to Twitter confirming the post was faked and warning fellow journalists not to share it.
Public service announcement. The post below is very amusing, but less so when you get Whatsapp'd it 300 times at all hours of the day and night.
It's fake and any journos sharing it are hereby banned from ever uttering 'Trusted news' again. pic.twitter.com/2tfspEfPWp
— Ian Carter (@iancarterIM) March 28, 2020
He wrote: “Public service announcement. The post below is very amusing, but less so when you get Whatsapp’d it 300 times at all hours of the day and night.
“It’s fake and any journos sharing it are hereby banned from ever uttering ‘Trusted news’ again.”
Ian told HTFP: “Whilst it might seem amusing, that soon wears off when you hear it featured on Radio 1 and it starts clogging up all your social media feeds.
“Fake news is fake news, whether it’s about coronavirus or the best places to have an outdoor w**k, and it was a bit disappointing to see so many journalists sharing it without seemingly giving any thought to whether it’s real or not.”
Earlier this month Ian complained to Facebook after another fake image, doctored to resemble a screenshot taken from Kent Online, was ciruclated on Facebook.
The image showed copy from a spoof story claiming two Albanian nationals had tested positive for COVID-19 after recently visiting a Costa Coffee outlet in Gravesend.
Ian’s criticism comes as comes as Oliver Dowden MP praised the news media for fulfilling a “vital” amid the crisis in providing accurate news and updates to the public, while warning inaccurate news stories and posts circulating online “could cost lives”.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has confirmed its ‘Don’t Feed the Beast’ public information campaign will be relaunched in order to tackle the spread of misinformation on social media platforms.
Mr Dowden wrote in the Daily Telegraph: “The country’s news media – broadcast, print and online – are fulfilling a vital role ensuring people receive accurate and timely health advice from the NHS and Public Health England during the pandemic, so everyone understands how important it is to follow the advice to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives.
“We cannot take that for granted on social media. Here it is much easier for fake news, hoax theories and pseudo-science to spread which will harm not help people if they take it seriously.
“We need people to follow the instructions of medical experts so that we can reduce the infection rate and protect the NHS.
“Misleading information about coronavirus online, whether maliciously intended or not, could cost lives.”