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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Welsh Government falls hook, line and sinker for fake news

I don't often look at Classic FM for my news, but this story is worth repeating. On their website they report that the Welsh government has deleted official guidance which appeared to be based on a spoof news post on social media.

They say official COVID-19 guidance for singers issued – and now deleted – by the Welsh government in light of the reopening of places of worship, appears to have been informed by a spoof social media news post, created by meme page Quire Memes to appear as if  it was written by Classic FM. 

The Welsh Government has since deleted guidance on its website that suggests “tenors are more likely to emit more virus than altos and sopranos”:

The advice appears to have been motivated by a spoof social media news post, created by meme page Quire Memes to appear as if written by us here at Classic FM. A doctored headline claimed that ‘Tenors should sit three metres away from other choir members, COVID study says’.

The post, which is categorically fake news, is captioned: “Tenors found to disperse aerosols the furthest, in this in-depth coronavirus study.”

A government spokesperson denied that the advice was based on a spoof post, but said they “apologise unreservedly for this error and for any confusion it may have caused”.

Professional tenor and choral director Charles MacDougall told The Telegraph it was “preposterous” that the Welsh government appeared to have based their official guidance on a meme.

“It is a total lack of care in getting singing going again and the investment in understanding anything about it,” he said. “That guidance is based on spoof evidence”.

The creator behind Quire Memes has since clarified their post was a meme that was a spoof version of a real Classic FM article, reporting on research that flautists presented a bigger risk of spreading COVID-19 based on findings from the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Theae sort of mistakes do not help the Welsh Government's credibility.

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