The spread of COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, has caused cities around the world to hole up at home and practice social distancing. Italy, one of the countries hit hardest by the crisis, has been in lockdown since the 9th of March, and because people are already getting stir-crazy spending so much time alone and indoors, one small bright spot of this global crisis has been a wealth of viral videos of Italian neighborhoods singing songs or playing instruments together from the still-quarantined comfort of their apartment balconies. (Which, hey, congrats on at least having balconies, Italy.)
While these videos are heartwarming, there are also a ton of fake ones crowding Twitter timelines. Numerous users have edited the clips with audio from live recordings of their favorite pop songs, however farfetched it may be that a village full of Italian people would belt them in unison. If Twitter is to be believed, quarantined Italians have spontaneously broken out in song to Rihanna's "Bitch Better Have My Money," Nicki Minaj's "Chun-Li," Charli XCX's "Track 10," Lorde's "Team," and even the "I Am Your Mother" monologue from the A24 horror film Hereditary.
Though these clips are all attempts at bringing a little levity into a pretty grim scenario, mainstream artists like Katy Perry and Madonna have totally fallen for the bit.
Over the weekend, Katy Perry quoted a tweet that read: "A whole neighborhood in Italy is singing 'Roar' by Katy Perry while they're on lockdown and self-quarantined." While that did not actually happen, she didn't realize the video was edited and wrote: "You cannot break the human spirit. We are one in this." She also posted an emoji of a heart and, inexplicably, the Hungarian flag, following her tweet (which she promptly deleted and reposted with an emoji of the Italian flag).
As of press time, Perry's amended post has over 212,000 likes and is still up. The original video, which you can view below, finds Italians actually singing their country's national anthem, and it makes much more sense.
In Madonna's case, the pop legend was duped by a tweet claiming that Italians had broken out into song with her 2019 single "I Rise," a song that hasn't even cracked the charts in that country. She tweeted, "Let Us All RISE UP. everywhere around the world!!!" and chose to go with the universal globe emojis, presumably to avoid tweeting out the wrong country's flag like Perry.
Seeing celebrities like Perry and Madonna get duped by clearly fake tweets is pretty hilarious, but it's also kind of depressing. In such chaotic and frightening times, it's disheartening to see misinformation, even intended as a joke, be spread so easily.
An entire Italian neighborhood belting "Bitch Better Have My Money" would be a trip. But it never happened.
This article originally appeared on VICE US.