Social media fact check: June 19, 2021
A summary of some of the most popular but completely bogus stories and visuals of the week. None of them are legitimate, even though they have been shared widely on social media. The Associated Press verified them. Here are the facts:
Brain waves are not a factor in naming variants of COVID-19
CLAIM: The new variants of COVID-19 have been named after brain wave frequencies.
THE FACTS: Viral variants and brain wave frequencies are named using letters of the Greek alphabet. But the names have nothing to do with it.
As news about the COVID-19 delta variant grabbed the headlines, online publications began to falsely claim that the new variants were named after brain waves or frequencies. Some articles have falsely claimed that this connection has to do with a secret plot to control humans through technology. For example, articles suggest that a variant of COVID-19 has been named delta because it has a big impact on children, and they have claimed that delta is a brain wave specific to children. But delta waves are actually more closely associated with deep sleep.
“Sleep is essential for development, so in a twisted way you could say that children have more delta waves,” said David McCormick, professor of biology and director of the University’s Institute of Neuroscience. from Oregon. The brain has billions of neurons that oscillate or generate short signals, also called brain waves. The first brain wave discovered was alpha rhythm, which is the predominant rhythm in the visual cortex when you close your eyes, McCormick said.
The COVID-19 delta variant was first discovered in India and is known to be more transmissible than other variants. But the variant did not receive its name as part of a conspiracy to control the brains. The delta variant was named after the World Health Organization announced in May that it would change its labeling system for COVID-19 variants.
The Greek alphabet is often used for naming purposes in math and science, not just brain waves. Prior to the change, COVID-19 variants were referred to by where they were found, as well as complex alphanumeric identifiers related to how a given variant descended from those that came before it. For example, a variant found in South Africa was known as the South African variant, or B.1.351. In order not to name the variants after their location, which the WHO said was “stigmatizing and discriminatory”, the system was changed and the Greek alphabet was selected as the source of labeling. The variants would now be known as alpha (B.1.7), beta (B.1.351), gamma (P.1), and delta (B.1.617.2).
Study touting hydroxychloroquine imperfect, experts say
CLAIM: The malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, when used with the antibiotic azithromycin, can improve survival by up to 200% when given to COVID-19 patients on ventilators.
THE FACTS: Experts say the small study this claim is based on proves nothing, and that there is now enough evidence from well-conducted studies to indicate that hydroxychloroquine is not effective in treating COVID -19. The study in question is twisted online to falsely suggest that senior health officials were wrong when they found out that hydroxychloroquine, a drug used to treat malaria, had no benefit as a treatment. COVID-19.
The observational study, which was not approved by independent scientists, gained attention on social media after it was posted on May 31 on Medrxiv, a website that displays medical articles that have not been published. . Articles online, including many supporters of former President Donald Trump, claimed that the study shows that health officials and the media were wrong to downplay the benefits of hydroxychloroquine against COVID-19, which Trump had defended. Several medical professionals told The Associated Press that using the new study to tout the benefits of hydroxychloroquine was misleading.
“This is a very small study from a single hospital that was observational only,” said Dr. Jaimie Meyer, an infectious disease physician at the Yale School of Medicine. “The answer to COVID is vaccination, not hydroxychloroquine. ”
Randomized, double-blind studies are the gold standard in medical research. In such studies, patients are not told whether they are receiving the drug being tested or a placebo. They allow for even distribution between groups and take into account potential differences between subjects that the researchers may not have anticipated. In an observational study, like the one featured in the fake posts, researchers simply observe patients without randomizing who gets which treatment. These studies are susceptible to bias and cannot prove cause and effect, Meyer said.
The study cited in the fake posts looked at 255 COVID-19 patients on ventilators as of May 1, 2020. It was conducted by the Smith Center for Infectious Diseases & Urban Health in East Orange, New Jersey, which is run by the Dr. Stephen M. Smith, an early proponent of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19. The study offers no information on how it was funded, and the center did not respond to a request for comment from AP. The study itself notes that it should not be used to guide clinical practice.
Hydroxychloroquine has since been tested in thousands of COVID-19 patients. Data from randomized studies have shown that the drug is not effective in treating the disease, alone or with other drugs like azithromycin. These included major studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Boy in courtroom footage charged with manslaughter, not bank hacking
CLAIM: Photos show a boy who, at age 11, hacked into the computer system of a Swiss bank and transferred $ 75 billion to his father’s account.
THE FACTS: The caption in the photos is incorrect. An AP photo dated May 20, 2009 matches one of the images in the post. His caption was that the handcuffed suspect, who was 14 at the time, was appearing in court in Caldwell, Idaho, for first degree murder for killing his father. He was charged as an adult. Photos shared over a thousand times on Facebook on Tuesday showed the boy in a courtroom wearing a yellow jumpsuit and handcuffs.
“At 11, he hacked into the computer system of a Swiss bank and transferred $ 75 billion to his father’s account,” a caption said in the post. Commentators on the publication reacted to the false claim, calling him a “genius” who should be recruited by NASA.
However, a reverse image search reveals the boy was in court for allegedly killing his father, not for robbing a bank. According to the AP and the Idaho Press-Tribune, the boy pleaded guilty in 2010 to a reduced charge of intentional homicide after testifying that his father sexually assaulted him. Five years after a seven-year sentence, a judge determined that he was fit to be released on probation, which allowed him to return to society in August 2014.
FBI Washington headquarters open as usual
CLAIM: The FBI headquarters building in Washington is completely closed, empty and walled up.
THE FACTS: A video disseminating the false claim shows the rear of the building rather than the main entrance, which was open and fully operational this week, according to an FBI statement.
The 30-second video, posted Monday to the encrypted messaging app Telegram, shows a view of the FBI headquarters, also known as the J. Edgar Hoover Building, from E Street NW in Washington. A narrator identifies the date as June 14, then claims the building is “completely closed.”
“Nobody’s in there,” says the narrator. “In fact, it’s even walled up. You can’t even go inside. The false claim has spread to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit and other platforms, with users speculating that the federal government is shutting down buildings in anticipation of some sort of large-scale event or attack. There is no evidence that this is the case.
“The FBI headquarters building at 935 Pennsylvania Avenue NW is open and fully operational, as are all of our field offices,” the FBI said in an emailed statement. An AP reporter who works near the building confirmed that people had been entering and exiting the building all week, including Monday, when the video was filmed. The main entrance to the building is located along Pennsylvania Avenue, not E Street NW, where the video was shot.