A report by World News Daily Report claiming, “thousands of genetically modified mosquitoes inoculated with Viagra have potentially escaped from a high-security laboratory in Wuhan, China,” is widely circulating on social media. Multiple users have shared the article on Twitter. Furthermore, Alt News has received several verification requests on its WhatsApp helpline (76000 11160) and mobile application.

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The World News Daily Report article carries an image of an ’87-year-old Wuhan resident’ who was allegedly bitten by one of the genetically modified mosquitoes.

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The article was republished by Maravi Post.

Satire believed to be true

Firstly, the absurdity of the claim itself should raise doubts. Secondly, no media outlet has reported that thousands of genetically modified mosquitoes injected with Viagra potentially escaped from Wuhan. If such a bizarre incident were true, it would have been widely reported in the media.

World News Daily Report is a satirical website. The ‘About’ section of its Facebook page states, “World News Daily Report is an independent satirical media organization dedicated to covering news and events from around the world in a completely ludicrous manner.”

The website used to carry a disclaimer at the bottom of every page stating that the nature of its content is entirely fictional. While this is no longer the case, an archived link to the website shows that the disclaimer indeed featured on every page at least till 2019.

Now the disclaimer is carried on the ‘Legal notice’ section. It states, “Information contained in this World News Daily Report website is for information and entertainment purposes only.” Furthermore, the phrase below the website’s logo reads – “Where facts don’t matter”.

The satirical article neither has a byline nor a date stamp. However, viewing the ‘Page Source’ of the article revealed that the story was published on October 20, 2020. (In order to view the page source, kindly used a desktop browser. It can be accessed via right-clicking on the webpage.)

Who is the elderly man in the article?

As per the Gerontology Wikia, the image shows Japan-based Yukichi Chuganji who was the world’s oldest man until his death on September 28, 2003. He died at the age of 114 years, 189 days. Multiple media outlets have reported this including The Japan Times and The Guardian.

Alt News found the uncropped image on the Gerontology Research Group’s (GRG) website. GRG was co-founded in 1990 by the late Stephen Coles, MD from Stanford University School of Medicine.

According to GRG, Japanese language daily Nishinippon Shimbun had provided the photo on January 31, 2002. The woman with Yukichi Chuganji is his daughter Kyoko Chuganji, who was 72 years old at the time.

We also found Chuganji’s photograph on Getty Images from 2002.

An old article by satirical website World News Daily Report claiming thousands of genetically modified mosquitoes inoculated with Viagra have potentially escaped from a high-security laboratory in Wuhan, China has resurfaced on social media and believed to be true by many. In 2017, Gujarati daily Sandesh and OneIndia had fallen for an article published by World News Daily Report claiming a man was sentenced to death for farting during Ramadan.

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About the Author

Archit is a graduate in English Literature from The MS University of Baroda. He also holds a post-graduation diploma in journalism from the Asian College of Journalism. Since then he has worked at Essel Group's English news channel at WION as a trainee journalist, at S3IDF as a fundraising & communications officer and at The Hindu as a reporter. At Alt News, he works as a fact-checking journalist.