The Boris Johnson government is funding a new initiative to challenge myths, misinformation, conspiracies and mistruths such as drinking bleach or urine to cure coronavirus, as the UK grapples with new cases and deaths.
Officials cited the example of the sister of a Bollywood actor reportedly sharing a controversial video from China as one of the examples of "more damaging mistruths" being targeted in the initiative funded by the Department for International Development.
The example of 'promoting violence' mentioned in an official release says: "Rumours that the virus was created or spread deliberately have already led to reported attacks on Chinese nationals across South East Asia as well as in the UK".
"A video claiming to show Chinese officials shooting coronavirus victims and alleging tens of thousands were executed went viral on social media sites worldwide, after the celebrity sister of a prominent Bollywood actor in India shared them. The video was in fact edited from four completely unrelated clips, including one of Chinese police shooting a rabid dog".
The release adds that "more damaging mistruths' include miracle cures for the virus, "such as drinking chlorine dioxide, an industrial bleach, or urine, eating garlic, gargling saltwater or spreading cow dung and mustard paste".
It cited the example of Myanmar, where news websites have reported false claims supposedly from health officials, advising people to sleep next to chopped onions claiming this will "absorb the virus" or to drink ginger juice.
"It is also falsely claimed you cannot catch coronavirus if you have a mosquito bite. Scammers pretending to be health officials in Myanmar have been selling black pepper seeds as a cure", the release adds.
The initiative includes engaging social media influencers such as Bianca Gonzalez from the Philippines, Jahangir Kabir from Bangladeshi, and KlikDokter, an Indonesian health blog.
International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: "Misinformation harms us all. By tackling it at source we will help stop the spread of fake news – and coronavirus – worldwide, including within the UK".
The initiative will analyse social media and online content to identify where the misinformation is coming from and how it is spreading – so victims of fake news can be sent the correct information and directed to official health advice, the release adds.