Beware of Fake Coronavirus Social Media Alerts

Colleges and school districts are grappling with phony posts about the outbreak.

Beware of Fake Coronavirus Social Media Alerts

Fake coronavirus social media alerts have been making the rounds at some Toronto and Hamilton, Canada colleges and universities, as well as a U.S. school district.

One post claiming that Ryerson University students were admitted to the hospital with the virus was declared phony by school officials, report City News. On Twitter, Ryerson University posted: “Ryerson University is aware that there are fake social media posts alleging that students have been admitted to hospital with the coronavirus today. There are no cases of coronavirus at Ryerson. For information on Security Alerts at Ryerson, please visit bit.ly/3104tYP.”

At McMaster University, a photo has been circulating of what appears to be a quarantine notice related to a possible coronavirus infection. That school has responded by posting: “McMaster has confirmed that this sign was false, and there is no cause for concern.”

Durham College’s Twitter feed says a picture has been circulating of an ambulance and hazmat suits on campus. “Due to heightened awareness, an abundance of caution was taken by first responders last week. It has been confirmed that this was NOT the coronavirus.”

The college said there are no known cases of the illness on its campus.

The Mesa Public School District and Highland High School in Gilbert, Arizona, have also seen coronavirus hoaxes circulating around their communities, reports AZFamily.com. One hoax claims some students have been diagnosed with the virus. The district says this claim is false and that no cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in the district.

Facebook is struggling to stem the spread of misinformation about the illness, reports CBS News. One hoax claims there is a vaccination for the coronavirus. There isn’t. Another false claim is that the coronavirus scare itself is a hoax. It isn’t. Still another hoax is that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is connected to the recent outbreak. It isn’t.

Texas A&M has quarantined a student who is suspected of being infected with the coronavirus, reports ABC News. The student recently traveled to Wuhan, China and went to the hospital last week with a cough and congestion. The case hasn’t been confirmed, and the student’s symptoms are mild.

In Arizona, a member of the Arizona State University (ASU) community has been confirmed as being infected with the coronavirus but does not live in campus housing. AZFamily.com reports that person is not severely ill and is being kept in isolation to prevent the virus from spreading. ASU has also banned travel to China.

About the Author

Robin Hattersley Gray
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Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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