Wuhan virus misinformation as epidemic continues to grow
TomoNews retracts Tencent death toll and sulfur dioxide cremation stories
TAIPEI — TomoNews effed up. We here at TomoNews would like to apologize for publishing two stories that after further investigation were found to be untrue.
On February 7, we published a story, "Tencent may have just leaked the truth," where it said a screenshot from Tencent's "Epidemic Situation Tracker" webpage appeared to show much higher estimates of those infected and killed by the Wuhan coronavirus.
According to New Bloom Magazine, upon closer examination, Tencent's epidemic tracker has a link to a public database that anyone can access.
New Bloom reports that hundreds of Chinese web developers have been scraping data from the Tencent website to generate their own charts, taking screenshots of the main Tencent dataset at different times, and sharing them along with their source code.
A search of all available datasets did not reveal any of the inflated figures appearing in the screenshot used for the original story.
A second story published on February 11 titled, "Sulfur dioxide cloud could be sign of cremations" was also found to be incorrect.
In the story, we said data from Windy.com on February 9 appeared to show high levels of sulfur dioxide, which could be a sign of mass cremations.
However, Windy.com does not display real-time empirical data. It is a forecasting tool which relies on projections from datasets like those at NASA's GEOS-5 model.
Historical trends can be plugged into the underlying model, but it cannot predict individual events.
Both stories have since been removed. We apologize again for not doing our proper due diligence.
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