Culture

‘Sunrise’ Shared A Map That Claimed To Show Spread Of Coronavirus. Only, It Was Ten Years Old

Whoops.

Coronavirus map aired on 'Sunrise'

Ever since the outbreak of coronavirus — now renamed COVID-19 — the internet has been particularly susceptible to misinformation.

It’s not hard to see why. Our digital world isn’t very good at fact-checking at the best of times, and in the midst of a crisis, bad news can spread fast — whether it’s entirely true or not. It’s like a game of Chinese whispers, with half-lies or straight-up fictions mutating as they grow more popular, using Facebook and Twitter to spread.

Take, for instance, the case of a map aired on Sunrise earlier this week. A mess of angry red lines, the map was introduced by host Samantha Armytage as showing the “predicted movements” of potential coronavirus carriers that escaped lockdown in Wuhan.

“It shows that they have travelled to all parts of the globe,” Armytage said, her voice serious.

Only, that’s not what the map shows. In actual fact, as The Guardian have noted, it’s a map of all flight plans — which explains why a lot of those scary red lines are coming from and to New York and London, not touching China at all. Oh, and not even recent flight plans. It’s a map of flight plans from 2010.

It’s not hard to find out how the slip-up happened. The map does show how quickly viruses can spread, given the massive interconnection between flights, and the ease with which carriers can traverse the globe.

It just doesn’t show how coronavirus has spread, or even how it will, particularly now certain corners of the globe are in lockdown.

Keep an eye out for this kind of stuff. As coronavirus continues to claim lives, it’s not going to go away soon.