On March 10, 2020, the @BBCNewsTonight Twitter account published a tweet claiming that actor Daniel Radcliffe had become the “first famous person” to test positive for the new coronavirus:
The account immediately raised a few red flags. For starters, it had a little over 100 followers when this tweet was posted. The real @BBCNews account has over 10 million followers. The BBC’s Breaking News account (located at @BBCBreaking) has over 40 million.
Furthermore, the link provided in this tweet did not lead viewers to a news article about Radcliffe’s alleged diagnosis. Rather, it led to a generic BBC page about news alerts. When news outlets post messages on social media regarding breaking news stories, they typically provide links to the stories themselves.
Lastly, if Radcliffe had truly been diagnosed with the coronavirus, this news story would have been picked up by dozens of other outlets. Yet, hours after the tweet was posted, this impostor account was the only one reporting on Radcliffe’s alleged diagnosis.
Jane Lytvynenko, a reporter at Buzzfeed News, managed to get in contact with Radcliffe’s publicist and was told that this rumor was “not true.”
The impostor Twitter account was suspended shortly after it spread this misinformation.