Well after the close of business on Monday, March 16, a frantic Floyd County resident called the Floyd Chronicle and Times office, wanting to know if something she saw on Facebook was true.
It was a photograph of what appeared to be a Floyd County newspaper reporting that COVID-19 was detected in Mud Creek. It was completely and obviously false, written by an idiot who has nothing better to do with his or her time.
On Wednesday, the Prestonsburg Police Department shared a screenshot of a Facebook page from someone trying to sell toilet paper for $12 and Clorox wipes for $25, reporting that the items must be picked up in Prestonsburg. Labeling the page as fake, the department reported that it is investigating the IP address from which the Facebook page originated. “We’ve already sent a preservation request to Facebook to freeze all your data and hold it for the search warrant we’re getting to seize all of it,” the department reported. “And when we find out who you really are ... well, we’re not sure when the judge will be back on the bench, but it’ll be longer than twenty-four hours.”
In these uncertain times, we all have reasons to be concerned for our health and the health of our loved ones.
Just like this is not a time for panic buying or hoarding, this is also not a time for us to take everything we see or find on Facebook or other social media, or even some websites, as truth.
Unfortunately, there are some bad actors among us, not just here in Floyd County, not just in Kentucky, but all over the world. They come into our homes via the internet and they sometimes make people believe things that are absolutely untrue.
We implore our readers to be weary of misinformation. Please get your news about this virus only from reputable news agencies.
This week, the Red Cross in Oklahoma had to report online that no, it is not providing coronavirus testing. That scam alert came across computer screens in that state because people pretending to be the Red Cross volunteers knocked on people’s doors and tried to sell people coronavirus tests.
Nationally, there has been all sorts of misinformation about this virus published online.
In January, a social media post purported that the “Ministry of Health” told residents to keep their throat moist to keep the virus at bay. It was completely false. This week, a viral video told people that breathing air from a hair dryer could cure the virus. Again, false. And let’s not forget the social media lies that informed people that using vodka or drinking alcohol could cure or prevent the virus. False.
There’s even a conspiracy theory group of people all over the country who are spouting out lies about how this coronavirus was drummed up in some lab so that global elites can be arrested in a child pornography ring. False. False. False.
The sad thing is that people actually believe some of it.
Our local banks have sent out emails to their customers, warning them about potential scams that could be sparked by this virus. Floyd County residents should take those warnings seriously and they should double check all these crazy things they’re seeing and reading on Facebook during this uncertain time.
If it looks and sounds suspicious, it probably is.
If it’s a story related to Floyd County that worries you, see if it’s on our website, floydct.com. If you want to know what’s going on in terms of the virus in Kentucky, visit the state’s website, kycovid19.ky.gov.
If it’s a national or international story that’s making outlandish claims, check it out online at, snopes.com. That website researches conspiracy theories and lies spouted on social media and reports whether it is true, slightly true or false.
These are uncertain times, but the information you use to protect your family with does not have to be. Seek reliable sources of information, like this newspaper, like all the newspapers in the Appalachian Newspapers family, the Appalachian News-Express in Pike County, the Paintsville Herald in Johnson County, the Hazard Herald in Perry County and the Mingo Messenger in Mingo County, W.Va.
Our reporters are working diligently to help you decipher the truth about what our communities are facing. You can find what we know on our websites and in our print editions.
God bless you all. Hang in there. Stay well.