Fake news spreads like a virus, bringing more anxiety during pandemic

It’s very easy to make fake news look official. Yucatan officials remind residents to view only trusted and official channels.

Coronavirus isn’t the only illness that’s spreading around. More deliberately false news items, often disguised as official government advisories, continue to grow.

Most recently a supposed notice from the state government circulated on social network, claiming all supermarkets were about to close. The typography and graphics looks legitimate, but anyone can cut and paste the state’s logo on a jpg.

The notice actually came from Tabasco’s government as an extreme measure ahead of Mother’s Day this Sunday. But someone swapped emblems on the graphic, making it appear to come from Yucatan’s capital.

In March, a false news story circulated stating that dogs and cats could spread coronavirus. As a result, dozens of pet owners tried to get rid of their animals.

The Franciscan Shelter reported receiving between eight and 12 people daily who wanted to abandon their dogs.

Earlier in March, before infections were confirmed in Yucatan, rumors spread on Facebook that an elderly woman was being treated for the highly contagious virus at the O’Horán hospital.

Another official-looking advisory warned the public to brace for a massive outbreak starting March 18. Government officials were forced to take time to deny the notice came from their offices.

In Merida, before the state initiated a dry law, a prankster announced a premature citywide ban on alcohol sales.

Yucatan officials implored residents to check Yucatan’s own Facebook page for official notices.

Yucatán Magazine

Yucatán Magazine is a news and information source for people who love it here. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.