Story at a glance
- An online dashboard tracking COVID-19 cases around the world went temporarily offline due to high site traffic.
- One user, Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli, asked Twitter if they knew the issue.
- Many Twitter users were concerned such a high-level government official was asking the public for answers, rather than the other way around.
If the Internet says it’s true, it must be — right? At least that’s what most of us hope when we turn to search engines and other platforms to look for answers to our questions.
But some people were concerned when the Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli turned to Twitter with questions about the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Has the Johns Hopkins map of the coronavirus stopped working for other people, or just me? https://t.co/36uda8fm6P— Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli (@HomelandKen) February 24, 2020
In a reply to the tweet, he said it appeared that Johns Hopkins, whose map he linked to, had put the information behind a membership wall.
“Seems like bad timing to stop helping the world with this (previously) useful resource. Here's hoping it goes back up soon,” he said.
Many were concerned that Cuccinelli, as a member of President Trump’s coronavirus task force, didn’t have direct access to the CDC’s numbers and was relying on a third party source.
PLEASE can someone tell me that this is a parody account and that our Executive branch has a CLUE of what is going on? PLEASE!?— (((Howard Forman))) (@thehowie) February 24, 2020
here are some useful resources for others: https://t.co/aZR9zff4fYhttps://t.co/aBTQdMOxFZhttps://t.co/hRsJnBkHa6 pic.twitter.com/n0JTET1cTx
Seriously? This is shamefully incompetent. Peoples lives are at stake.— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) February 25, 2020
It would behoove you to call in someone who knows what they’re doing.
Dude, this isn't your DHS Slack team.— ➖Dustin Miller➖ (@spdustin) February 24, 2020
Also, you should know who to call to get the data you need. https://t.co/HU9ACla6Ma
A couple hours after the original tweet, Cucinelli responded to put the public's mind at ease.
For some of you who have commented on the subject, I do have the benefit of CDC's data. Obviously, my view is the more sources the better. I also appreciate the easy access to non-China country data.— Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli (@HomelandKen) February 24, 2020
By then, the map tracking COVID-19 around the world was back online after an outage Johns Hopkins said — on Twitter, of course— was caused by high site traffic.