FACT CHECK: Did A Florida Robber Use A Cough ‘As A Weapon’ Amid The Coronavirus Outbreak?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Editor

An image shared on Instagram claims that a man was arrested for robbery after “using cough as a weapon.”

Verdict: False

There is no evidence that the arrest occurred. The image was created with a breaking news generator and posted on a satirical news website.

Fact Check:

As the novel coronavirus continues to spread, so does misinformation related to COVID-19, the disease caused by it. This viral Instagram post appears to be the latest example. (RELATED: Article Claims Africans Have Genetic Resistance To Coronavirus)

It features an alleged screen grab of a live breaking news broadcast, with the ticker saying, “Corona Virus: Florida man arrested for robbery using cough as a weapon.” A chyron over the background image of an Asian man quotes the thief as allegedly saying, “If you call the police I will cough.”

There is, however, no record of the purported event ever taking place. The image appears to feed into harmful stereotypes about groups of people who have the novel coronavirus.

The watermark in the upper-right corner revealed the news chyron was made on Breakyourownnews.com, a website that allows users to generate their own breaking news images. Danking News, a parody news website, posted the image on Feb. 23. Yet, while Danking News clearly disclaims the satirical nature of its content, the Instagram account sharing it failed to make a similar disclosure.

COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets expelled during coughing or exhaling. Confirmed cases of the virus have been documented in 151 countries and territories as of March 16, according to the World Health Organization.

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Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Editor
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