Fukushima radiation hoax SMS message spreads in Philippines

Filed Under: Mobile, Spam

Text messageA hoax SMS text message claiming that radiation may hit the Philippines, following explosions that have rocked Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant, have caused such a problem that authorities in Manila have issued an official denial.

The text of one of the hoaxes that is being spread via SMS messages reads as follows:

"BBC Flashnews: Japan gov't confirms radiation leak at Fukushima nuclear plants. Asian countries should take necessary precautions. Remain indoors first 24hours. Close doors and windows. Swab neck skin with betadine where thyroid area is, radiation hits thyroid first. Take extra precaution, radiation may hit Philippines."

However, the BBC has issued no such news flash, and the Philippines' Department of Science and Technology has published a statement asking people not to believe the hoax:

"The advice circulating that people should stay indoors and to wear raincoats if they go outdoors has no basis and did not come from DOST or the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Center."

DOST statement

According to some media reports, workers at some companies and school children were sent home after the rumours began to spread.

Readers of the Naked Security site will be all too aware of the nuisance that can be caused by passing on hoax warnings about virus threats, and how technology has made it all too easy to pass on scares without checking facts.

It seems the problem is even more severe when the scare is not about a malware attack, but about a radiation health scare instead.

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8 Responses to Fukushima radiation hoax SMS message spreads in Philippines

  1. Wendy · 1667 days ago

    I got the message over my blackberry from family in Bali. I am In the Netherlands, so it spreads quite fast. By the way, putting Iodine or Betadine (which is povidone-iodine) on your neck will not protect you from any radiation sickness.

  2. Jane · 1667 days ago

    Um they may NOT have issued this. But when a nuclear plant meltdowns it WILL have affects on the whole world. THREE so far ARE in meltdown. Three more (that I know of) are at risk. Please inform the people of this. I have always loved your post and how you help people. But this time you need to give them a little more info.

    • Thanks for the message Jane.

      Do you have a source for the claim that the nuclear plants have reached meltdown? Admittedly the story does seem to be very confused, with many media reports discussing the *threat* of meltdown but from everything I have read (including statements from the IAEA) that is not believed to have actually occurred.

      Fingers crossed that the situation does not get worse.

      • Tam · 1667 days ago

        Maybe not a complete meltdown, but it appears that there is evidence of at least a partial meltdown.

        "Before the explosion, Japan's nuclear agency had said that radioactive caesium and iodine had been detected near the number one reactor. The agency said this could indicate that containers of uranium fuel inside the reactor may have begun melting."

        Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-1272... on 2011-03-15

  3. lemondreas · 1667 days ago

    Just keep cool for a moment, panic isn't what the world is needing, now.

    For those who don't know a thing about meltdowns i have this: http://morgsatlarge.wordpress.com/2011/03/13/why-...

    And there are already a lot of comments in the net which are agreeing with this, most of them written by scientists. So calm down a little...

    By the way and back to topic:
    As an sms provider it would be my "idea of the century" to invent this type of hoax, clever and the situation best used.

  4. merryellya · 1667 days ago

    i got the message of be aware with the radiation on my face book wall, but willing not to spread anymore. well i hope that somebody will deal with this in face book

  5. RutviYagnik · 1666 days ago

    Nice Explanation.

    God Bless you All.

  6. jell2003 · 1663 days ago

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog at https://grahamcluley.com, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley