A social media hoax that has been viral since early 2017 and has been denounced multiple times continues to be viral on Facebook and WhatsApp. The text of the hoax states, “URGENT WARNING! Be careful not to take the paracetamol that comes written P-500. It’s new, very white and shiny paracetamol. Doctors prove to contain ”Machupo” virus, considered one of the most dangerous viruses in the world with high mortality rate. Please share this message for all people and families and save life from them.“. While this message has been viral in various forms, a post on a Facebook page called Dr Römal Möhammadi has been shared over 277,000 times at the time of writing.
Even though the aforementioned Facebook post was created in April 2017, it is still being actively shared. As can be seen in the video below, this post is being shared multiple times every single minute in different parts of the world including India.
The crux of the hoax is that the P-500 paracetamol tablet contains a deadly virus called Machupo virus. However, Machupo virus which causes the Bolivian haemorrhagic fever is limited to South America. Moreover, it typically infects rodents and it is comparatively rare in humans. There are no known cases of Machupo virus in India. This hoax has been debunked by various Indian newspapers such as Hindu and Bangalore Mirror.
The Malaysian Government put out an official press release denouncing this hoax and stating that the tablet doesn’t contain any virus.
The Indonesian Food and Drug Administration (BPOM) has also put out an official statement declaring the viral message to be a hoax.
Fact-checker website Snopes also published a fact-check regarding this and stated that the P-500 paracetamol tablets contain no virus.
Even though multiple newspapers, fact-checkers and Government agencies have put out information stating that the information is a hoax, this message still continues to be viral and that is a very worrying issue. This is where one needs to question platforms like Facebook and their lack of effort towards controlling these social media hoaxes, especially when it is two platforms owned by Facebook, i.e Facebook and Whatsapp, which are the main carriers of these hoaxes.
How does a Facebook post from April 2017 continue to be shared actively when it has been denounced as a hoax multiple times? Why hasn’t Facebook acted in a more proactive manner and removed the post from Facebook or at-least put out a warning stating that the post has been declared to be fake by multiple authorities? How long is Facebook going to shirk their responsibility when they own the two platforms that have become host to multiple fake videos, images and hoaxes?