Coronavirus fake news shared on Georgian Facebook by pages run outside country, research shows

  • Georgia's Data Exchange Agency said it identified daily incidents of cybersecurity on Georgian social media related to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. Image: Blue Coat Photos on Flickr., 23 Mar 2020 - 16:54, Tbilisi,Georgia

Facebook pages run on servers located outside Georgia are running fake news on the new coronavirus outbreak on Georgian-language Facebook, a research by the state's Data Exchange Agency has revealed.

The institution, part of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia, revealed on Sunday it had run an inquiry into pages with "artificially gained number of likes" running false information about the crisis.

The agency said the pages published fake stories about COVID-19 intermittently, within a stream of posts about various subjects. The DEA also told social media users professionals of the organisation had traced pages to servers located outside Georgia.

The agency revealed results of its probe within an effort to warn citizens about a rise in volume of malicious information on social media amid the outbreak. The state organisation said it found several daily cases of such links leading users to harmful websites that gained access to their systems as a result.

In its recommendations to social media users the DEA urged them to ensure higher security precautions when following links posted on Facebook, use more complex passwords for their accounts, use two-factor authentication and antivirus software and ensure dilligence in confirming information shared on platforms via multiple sources.

Citizens can report incidents related to malicious links on social media, cybersecurity and more to the agency email address