Get the latest on coronavirus. have since dismissed and debunked the propaganda.
Far-right figures in the UK also alleged Muslims made up “25% of the coronavirus cases” in the country because they “refused to self-isolate” ― a figure that is unsubstantiated ― according to posts collected by First Draft News and shared with HuffPost.
Similar tactics were employed by far-right figures in the US who have insinuated that shelter in place rules would be lifted just in time for the Islamic month of Ramadan, in order to accommodate Muslims while ignoring other religious communities such as those celebrating Easter.
Advocacy groups are pleading with social media companies to do something to stop the anti-Muslim propaganda and hate speech. On Wednesday, a coalition of advocacy groups released a public appeal letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, urging them to do more to halt the rapid rise of anti-Muslim disinformation online. Equality Labs, which spearheaded the letter, also launched a Twitter “storm” around the hashtag #StopCOVIDIslamophobia in order to raise awareness of widespread Islamophobia in the wake of the pandemic.
“Organisations and corporations like Facebook and Twitter have a huge responsibility, and they’re accountable to what’s happening on their platforms when people are dying because of something they read on Twitter, which is where the majority of these hashtags are taking off,” said a spokesperson at Equality Labs.
Wardle of First Draft News said it was crucial for news organisations now more than ever to fact-check such disinformation due to the immediate backlash and consequential harm faced by marginalised communities.
At a time when most people are staying home in line with social distancing rules, more people are increasingly susceptible to the influx of fake news and conspiracy theories that largely go unchallenged, she added.
“Because people are scared and isolated, we’re going to see more of this and that’s the biggest worry,” said Wardle.