Todd Starnes, the best-selling author and host of the “Todd Starnes Radio Show,” said CNN is assisting in the spread of fake news that the U.S. is shutting down over coronavirus fears after a tweet by one of its reporters warning of a possible impending curfew.
Jim Sciutto, a reporter at the network, tweeted Monday that there are current discussions “within the Trump administration to encourage a possible “curfew” across the nation in which non-essential businesses would have to close by a certain time each night.”
Katie Miller, Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary, responded to Sciutto’s tweet and wrote that it “is not correct.”
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The Trump administration has been working to deny the spread of what it called a disinformation campaign online. The first public rebuke came from a National Security Council earlier Monday. The agency tweeted, “Text message rumors of a national quarantine are FAKE. There is no national lockdown.”
A senior administration official told Fox News that there is “an ongoing effort to spread disinformation and cause undue panic.” The Associated Press, citing unnamed U.S. officials, reported that the disinformation campaign is being carried out by a foreign entity to sow fears in the U.S.
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The officials were not clear on whether a government is behind the campaign. Starnes said China may be playing a role based on its uneasy relationship with the U.S. after the coronavirus outbreak. An unnamed source told Fox News that the campaign is likely a “state-sponsored attack.”
Axios pointed out that social media giants have faced pressure to prevent “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” The report said that misinformation comes in many shapes and sizes. Alyssa Milano, a well-known social media presence, deleted an image she posted on Twitter that gave false information on the virus.
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“Unfortunately, though, people don’t always get everything right — and even the ‘best’ information changes over time. One byproduct of this ‘natural’ collective sensemaking is misinformation, unintentionally spread,” Kate Starbird, a University of Washington researcher, told Axios.