Top ten fake news stories in Thailand 2022

PHOTO: The top ten fake news stories in Thailand last year. (via PngWing)

Before New Year’s Eve, we recounted the top ten news stories that generated the most buzz on Thai social media. But what about the stories last year that weren’t true, didn’t exist, or simply didn’t happen? Thai PBS World reported yesterday that the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society released a top ten fake news story list.

10. N-Dro, a natural herbal extract oral spray for bad breath, also kills germs, bacteria and viruses. Posts online claimed that it can stop Covid-19 from infecting the lungs, as well as protect users from the flu and reduce infections. Spoiler alert: it can’t.

9. Vaccine misinformation and death warnings. Many, many, MANY posts on social media claimed that vaccines were more deadly than Covid, or that vaccines will kill you. Statistical and scientific evidence does not support this, but millions of people were urged not to get a Covid vaccine.

8. A new variant of the common influenza virus is spreading and the Ministry of Public Health issued a travel warning telling people to stop all travelling and activities. They had not, it was fake news.

7. A message was spread on social media, particularly on WhatsApp:

“Be careful not to take the paracetamol that comes written P/500. It is a new, very white and shiny paracetamol, doctors say it contains ‘Machupo’ virus, considered one of the most dangerous viruses in the world. And with a high mortality rate. Please share this message, with all people and family.”

Machupo is a virus discovered in Bolivia in 1962 with a mortality rate of around 25%. In this century, there have been a few outbreaks in Bolivia and most recently in Trinidad in 2011. It is spread by the vesper mouse, indigenous to northern Bolivia and not found outside of South America.

This bit of fake news never had evidence of an infected paracetamol pill or any other pill anywhere in the world, though it was briefly researched as a possible bio-weapon in the US in the late 1960s.

6. Between August 22 and August 28, a series of nine torrential rainstorms will pelt Thailand, causing severe flooding in Bangkok. In actuality, that August week saw 5 days of sun in Bangkok with just two recorded rainstorms on Thursday and Friday.

5. A malicious QR code was attached to packages sent by postal mail. If you scanned the code, the fake news story warned that it would somehow delete all deposits made to your bank account. This was a hoax.

4. Thai social media was in a panic when it was falsely reported that the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) was suspending its phone service. The posts claimed that some mobile phone service subscribers were being blacklisted and having their service suspended.

3. More vaccine disinformation – a rumour spread that the Thai Food and Drug Administration had sued Pfizer to force them to disclose the side effects details of their Covid vaccine. The story circulated that they had lost the lawsuit, but none of this was true.

2. A viral post explained that the Earth will reach 90 million kilometres from the sun, its farthest distance. As a result, it claimed that the planet will be colder than normal during this period in July and August. Some posts even claimed people would get the flu, shortness of breath and cough as a result.

In fact, this is known as the Aphelion and happens every single year (as a year is the length of time it takes the Earth to circle the sun in its elliptical orbit). The planet gets closer and farther from the sun throughout the year, every year. There is no physical or health effect associated with this. It’s just fake news.

1. Another dangerous bit of fake news, this time preying on desperate people with terminal illnesses. A viral post claimed that you would not die of a terminal cancer diagnosis if you followed a simple diet. By chewing on three ripe papaya seeds each day for a month and avoiding drinking water, this viral post claimed you would be cured.

Not only is this completely false, but not drinking water for a month can have serious health consequences.

Did you see any crazy fake news this past year?

Thailand News

Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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