LONDON: The Swiss embassy in Beijing has urged Chinese media to take down what it called “false news” articles about the origins of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The posts in question quoted so-called Swiss scientist, Wilson Edwards, who the embassy said did not exist.
Edwards was cited by Chinese media organizations including CGTN, the Shanghai Daily, and Global Times reportedly based on his Facebook profile.
But in a tweet, the Swiss embassy said: “While we appreciate the attention on our country, the Embassy of Switzerland must unfortunately inform the Chinese public that this news is false.
Looking for Wilson Edwards, alleged biologist, cited in press and social media in China over the last several days. If you exist, we would like to meet you! But it is more likely that this is a fake news, and we call on the Chinese press and netizens to take down the posts. pic.twitter.com/U6ku5EGibm
— Embassy of Switzerland in Beijing (@SwissEmbChina) August 10, 2021
“It is likely that this Facebook account was not opened for social networking purposes,” it added.
The articles in which Edwards was referenced included information about the origins of COVID-19 and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) independence.
One report stated how a European biologist claimed that tracing the origins of the pandemic would become a “political tool,” and expressed concerns about the WHO’s autonomy.
Misinformation on COVID-19 has dominated mainstream media in recent years, with many social media platforms, news organizations, and government institutions attempting to combat the spread of false news.
Only recently, the US press reported misleading information about delta variant infections spreading among vaccinated and unvaccinated people. American President Joe Biden also blamed Facebook for a surge in COVID-19 cases accusing the social media company of “killing people” by allowing the spread of misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.
According to a study by MIT, false news spread much more rapidly than real news, particularly on social media sites.