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Health Department accused of coronavirus disinformation campaign

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The British government has been accused of resorting to disinformation to hide its failings over the coronavirus crisis

On the day it was revealed there have been an additional 823 coronavirus-related deaths in British hospitals, the government has come under pressure to come clean about possible disinformation campaigns.

The controversy is centered on scores of allegedly fake Twitter accounts posing as National Health Service (NHS) workers supportive of the government’s coronavirus management strategy.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has been widely accused on social media of operating a network of fake accounts pretending to be NHS workers supportive of government policy.

The professional coordinated campaign was first discovered by Twitter user John O’Connell on April 20 who claimed he had identified “128 fake NHS accounts”.

O’Connel claims the fake accounts use the names of real NHS staff in order to lend a fraudulent veneer of credibility to their disinformation campaign.

For its part the government has denied it is behind the coordinated network of fake accounts.

 But the government’s denials are widely disbelieved on social media where veteran activists have pointed to the professional and well coordinated nature of the campaign to argue that government agencies are behind it.

Another reason the government will struggle to shrug of the accusations is the now established fact that the DHSC has been consistently under-reporting the UK’s coronavirus death toll.

A report by the Office for National Statistics states that the total number of COVID-19 deaths in England and Wales is 41 percent higher than the official death toll released by the DHSC.



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