Department of Health's COVID-19 Fake News Campaign Across Social Media Exposed
The British Government’s Department of Health and Social Care has been involved in setting up well over 100 fake NHS accounts to push government propaganda, a shocking claim says.
John O’Connell, the founder and editor of the Far-Right Watch anti-racism group, has identified 128 separate accounts that were retweeting and posting pro-government propaganda surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus crisis.
The accounts, utilising fake profile information and images of NHS staff, have been said to have been created by a single individual, with 4 others assigned to post to the accounts as part of what is suggested to be a sanctioned government operation by a “marketing agency” staffed by ex Department of Health employees serving only the DHSC. The utilisation of the agency affords the DHSC a level of deniability.
These accounts initially pushed the much-derided herd immunity policy but more recently were pushing for an end to lockdown.
Yesterday we published a report stating that key figures in the government, led by Michael Gove, were pushing for an end to lockdown while COVID-19 was still a deadly threat to the British population and were likely to use behavioural science and nudge theory to push the public themselves into calling for an end to the lockdown.
O’Connell has contacted the individual believed to be responsible for the accounts and received a “no comment” response. He goes on to state that 128 of the accounts are confirmed to be fraudulent while 9 others are likely so and 14 others possible. 16 further accounts are claiming no connection to the NHS. Of these accounts, 43 contain images of real NHS staff whose images are being utilised without their permission.
Following O’Connell revealing the existence of his investigation on April 17, the majority of the accounts were immediately deleted by the account holders.
It is not the first time that the Department of Health has been accused of utilising fake online accounts to spread propaganda, with the Conservative Party being found to control a massive bot network late last year.
It was in December that the public reacted with outrage to the photo of a sick 4-year old child sleeping on the floor of an NHS hospital due to funding. His mother, Sarah Williment, was forced to cover her son in coats to keep him warm and comfortable. The scandal deepened when Prime Minister Boris Johnson refused to look at the photo of the young boy laying on the floor, commentators decrying his reaction as entirely without empathy and “sociopathic”.
Soon after the Prime Minister’s disgraceful reaction, online accounts began repeating the same message over and over, posting to their profiles, Facebook pages and Facebook groups, attempting to claim the incident never happened. The single repeated message over and over suggests the use of a bot network, either utilising premade accounts for the automatic spreading of propaganda or using hacked accounts.
It was also last year that OSCR, the Scottish charity regulator, released a report into the controversial Institute For Statecraft, concluding that its Integrity Initiative subsidiary was essentially a propaganda outfit. In December of 2018 the Integrity Initiative had used their Twitter feed to make highly critical comments about Jeremy Corbyn, including allegations regarding Russia. The Integrity Initiative was officially both a registered charity and publicly funded by the government as a subsidiary of the IFS.
Further, as John O’Connell himself points out as part of his investigations “the methods, the technology, the tools, [were] all used before by the various Brexit campaigns.”
The Department of Health and Social Care were quick to react on social media, stating that the claims were “categorically false” and attempting to portray the spreading of the report as an affront to the great patriotic fight against the coronavirus, stating that “to share disinformation of this kind undermines the national effort against coronavirus.”
We would suggest failing to provide health workers with PPE undermines the national effort against coronavirus to a far greater extent, but there you go.
O’Connell has stated that he will have further information on the issue today and all readers are urged to both follow his account and spread the information he has revealed far and wide as the government begin their attempts at covering up this developing scandal.