Local news outlets circulated false media reports that Russia released hundreds of lions into the streets in an attempt to enforce a nationwide curfew to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Akeed investigated a photo attached to the articles and determined that the photo was first published in April 2016 and was later used over 300 times by different websites. Other sites used an old image of a lion wandering in the streets of the South African city of Johannesburg which was originally used in a film.
Some news outlets included a comment by President Vladimir Putin in which he praises the importance of deterrence mechanisms to enforce the curfew. However, such comments were not published by the Kremlin’s official news sites. Other sites included a video clip of a stray tiger wandering through Russia’s streets.
The news was shared widely on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp, and included sarcastic comments about the severity of Russia’s enforcement mechanisms to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Akeed reminds all that the media must adhere to the professional and ethical standards of news coverage, especially when it comes to coronavirus whereby the media must refrain from publishing news and photos before verifying their authenticity.