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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke July 6, 2020

Story about Ghislaine Maxwell, COVID-19 is a hoax

If Your Time is short

  • The BBC did not publish an article dated July 11, 2020, about Ghislaine Maxwell moving to intensive care because of COVID-19 symptoms. 

Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested on July 2 on charges she lured girls to be sexually abused by financier Jeffrey Epstein. 

According to official autopsy results, Epstein killed himself last year in a New York jail cell where he was being held on federal sex trafficking charges, though conspiracy theories allege he was murdered because he had damaging information about powerful people. An image of what looks like a BBC article that’s being shared on Facebook suggests that Maxwell will meet a similar end. 

"Ghislaine Maxwell moved to intensive care as coronavirus symptoms worsen," the headline says above an image of Maxwell. The article appears under the BBC’s "England" tab. But the dateline is in the future: July 11, 2020.

"Death by executing oh I mean COVID-19 (MY BAD)," one account commented on the Facebook post. "The sheep will believe the virus cover up." 

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) 

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This headline does not appear on the BBC’s website. 

Searching for it more broadly online, we found only a fact-check ruling that the image is a forgery. 

The wording of the headline is similar to the one on an April 7 BBC story about Britain’s prime minister: "Coronavirus: Boris Johnson moved to intensive care as symptoms worsen." Johnson, who was sickened by COVID-19, has since recovered. 

A story about Maxwell wouldn’t appear in the BBC’s England section because, though she is a British socialite, she was arrested in Bradford, N.H., and indicted in the United States. The acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York announced the charges against Maxwell. When the BBC reported on the charges, the story appeared in its "US & Canada"

On July 3, a self-described satire site posted a story claiming Maxwell had tested positive for COVID-19 in a New Hampshire jail. We found no credible reports that Maxwell has tested positive for the disease. 

We rate this image Pants on Fire. 


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Story about Ghislaine Maxwell, COVID-19 is a hoax

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