India, Thailand, Germany warn of punishment for coronavirus misinformation on April Fools’ Day

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Several nations, including Thailand, Germany and India, have warned against spreading coronavirus-related misinformation on April Fools’ Day, with some countries threatening jail time for perpetrators.

Thai officials announced Tuesday that such jokes could carry a sentence of up to five years, with the government tweeting “DON’T lie, spread false info about Covid-19 situation, infections tomorrow.”

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, meanwhile, warned that spreading misinformation about the virus could result in up to three years in jail or the equivalent of more than $99,000 in fines, Reuters reported.

The cybersecurity unit for Maharashtra, India, meanwhile, vowed legal action against anyone spreading misinformation or rumors, with Home Minister Anil Deshmukh tweeting “the state govt won’t allow anyone to spread rumors/panic on #Corona.”

Mumbai police have already registered a case against an unnamed resident who falsely claimed on WhatsApp that the military had been deployed in the city, India Today reported.

“Every year on April 1, people do pranks with friends and relatives. However, this year they should avoid it,” Deshmukh said. “Maharashtra and India are fighting a battle against coronavirus. Fake messages, rumors in the name of April Fools’ will create a panic situation in the community and therefore it should not be done.”

“If someone is found spreading such messages, police will take action against a person under the cybercrime act,” he added. “I appeal to people to please cooperate in this situation.”

Germany’s health ministry also warned against such activity under the heading “Corona is no joke,” according to Reuters.

The prank holiday’s proximity to the ongoing pandemic has numerous institutions rethinking April Fools’ traditions, including Google, which has canceled its annual observation of April Fools’ Day due to the possibility of spreading false information relating to the virus.

Tags April Fools April Fools Day Coronavirus COVID-19 misinformation Social media WhatsApp

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