The group behind the viral Daniel Radcliffe coronavirus hoax says it picked the actor because he's 'famous but not famous enough'

  • A viral hoax tweet from an account impersonating BBC News claimed that Daniel Radcliffe is the first famous person to test positive for the coronavirus – but it's not true.
  • A group chat of 33 people claiming to be behind the since-deleted account told BuzzFeed News that they picked Radcliffe because he's "famous but not famous enough to be unbelievable." 
  • The hoax fooled plenty of people, including top journalists and thousands of Twitter users who stumbled across the convincing fake news tweet.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

An online hoax seemingly convinced thousands of Twitter users that Daniel Radcliffe was the first famous person to test positive for the coronavirus – but the claim stemmed from a since-deleted Twitter account that the platform suspended for impersonating BBC News. 

The tweet in question said "BREAKING: Daniel Radcliffe tests positive for coronavirus. The actor is said to be the first famous person to be publicly confirmed." 

At first or even at second glance the tweet looked legitimate, although the account wasn't verified. With the handle "@BBCNewsTonight" and the name BBC Breaking News, along with official BBC branding imagery, it was enough for the fake news to go viral. Radcliffe's representative confirmed to Insider that the actor does not have the coronavirus. 

BuzzFeed News interviewed a group chat with 33 members who claimed to be behind the "@BBCNewsTonight" account and the Radcliffe coronavirus hoax. The group members claim they've been spreading online hoaxes since 2016, and told BuzzFeed it's because it's funny and they like to mess with people. 

One member said the decision to target Radcliffe was because "We needed someone who was famous but not famous enough to be unbelievable," citing their perception that Radcliffe isn't relevant anymore, but has widespread recognition as the child star of the "Harry Potter" franchise. 

Other celebrity targets could have included actors David Hasselhoff, Pamela Anderson, and Megan Fox, the group told BuzzFeed News. In the Twitter group chat with the BuzzFeed report, one member sent screenshots of the hoax tweet's impressions, a Twitter-based metric that shows more than 311,000 people saw the tweet.

The tweet fooled thousands of people, including high-profile Twitter users like New York Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman, who tweeted the BuzzFeed article and wrote "Earlier today, I RTed a fake BBC account and un-RTed when a very helpful reader flagged it. My apologies for confusion."

Source: Read Full Article