In a story related to the novel coronavirus, was a Florida man arrested for robbery after using his cough as a weapon? No, that's not true: The story originated on a site that has the tag line "satirical news." The image was created using breakyourownnews.com, a known prank generator site. Another Internet user shared the made-up image as a meme but dropped the satire labeling.
The claim originated from a satirical image (archived here) published by Danking News on February 23, 2020, under the title "Corona virus: Florida man arrested for robbery using cough as a weapon." It opened:
BREAKING NEWS: "If you call the police I will cough"
Corona virus: Florida man arrested for robbery using cough as a weapon
Users on social media saw this:
The post on Danking News did not contain a written article. Instead, it showcased the fake "breaking news" image that appears like a local news screenshot - complete with a chyron, ticker, and breaking news branding.
Internet users can easily create images such as this using fake news generator sites. The Breaking News Generator site allows anyone to pick a headline, ticker text, and a customized image. Here's the description on the main page:
Today's top story... you! Or, whatever you want. Add your pic, write the headline and we'll go live to the scene. Sort of.
The Instagram user @shanghaiobserved shared the image without the satire notation that was on the original site, and that post has generated thousands of likes and engagements. Some readers may have been duped into believing it was a true story, but the incident never happened.