A thread that has gone viral on Twitter says a man was infected with monkeypox in Spain after meeting an individual to buy a scooter through the Wallapop app. There is no evidence that the testimony is real. The account that posts it maintained a different identity for eight years, deleted posts from that scene, and is currently using two photos of other people to illustrate its likeness. Four expert virologists question the veracity of the contagion story.
“Yesterday I was diagnosed with monkey pox. No, I haven’t been to any sex parties as the WHO says, nor have I gotten a tattoo,” begins the Twitter feed, which has over 25,000 likes. retweets. The author of the story clarifies that he was infected after “a 15-minute contact” with the seller of the scooter. “It is not a gay disease as the WHO says, you catch him buying a Wallapop item“, he concludes.
Four different experts say the contagion reported in the wire can happen, but they consider it unlikely. “It is profoundly unlikely. It’s obvious we’re dealing with fake newsof distortion, that creates confusion“, said epidemiologist and public health expert Daniel López Acuña in Las Mañanas de RNE (min. 6:23).
Neurovirologist José Antonio López Guerrero also questioned the veracity of Twitter’s story about contagion through contact with an infected person while buying a scooter. “It is a somewhat tricky form of infection“, he declared to the television news of August 1 (min. 18:14).
Antonio Alcami, a virologist at the Severo Ochoa Molecular Biology Center (CBMSO-CSIC), told VerificaRTVE that “so far what we know is that we have to be in direct/close contact with an infected person” to get infected. “No evidence of infection from objects“, he says.
Margarita del Val, virologist and coordinator of the CSIC Global Health platform, speaks in the same direction. “Now even there is no evidence that contagion occurs through contact with surfaces, but it is not excluded“, he explains to us. He assures that such contagion “is not usual, because it is a disease that enters through the respiratory tract and requires very close contact for contagion to occur”.
Another identity for eight years and a massive deletion of tweets
The account broadcasting the Twitter feed was created in June 2013 under a different identity. Then her username was @SusanaPresident and she defined herself as a “platform” to support the candidacy of Susana Díaz in the Andalusian PSOE primaries in July 2013. We verified this by observing messages that interacted with @mei_rito throughout 2013. We also see it in this article from El Diario which quotes the @SusanaPresident account as a “platform” of support for Díaz “with few repercussions”.
Using the Wayback Machine archiving tool, we retrieved messages posted by @SusanaPresident in 2019. That year, the account uses the same username but changes the profile name to “La Felipona”. His biography of presentation also varies by a parody: “La Felipona, professional politician, expert in cuts, enemy of Podemos”. We see it in this tweet from October 27, 2019.
We at VerificaRTVE have verified that the Twitter account has deleted messages it posted from June 2013 to the end of July 2021. The oldest tweet that the account retains is from August 4, 2021. The post already shows the username @mei_rito and the current profile and cover photos. Mass deletion of messages is a common resource in accounts that misinform. The practice consists of accumulating subscribers with a specific identity and later modifying it to spread false or misleading content, taking advantage of the audience already reached.