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AFP fact-check articles of the week

March 15, 2019

AFP’s fact-check service debunks misinformation spread online. Here is a selection from around the world published on our blog this week:

1. Ethiopian Airlines crash

Disasters such as the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash spark emotional responses, providing fertile ground for false claims to proliferate. Misleading images of unrelated incidents were shared in the context of Sunday’s crash, from photos showing the wreckage of a crashed Indonesian air force plane to videos of turbulence on a 2016 flight between Abu Dhabi and Jakarta.

2. Arctic Ice

Three NASA pictures were shared in a misleading composite image claiming that Arctic ice cover reached the same level in 2017 as in 1979. The assertion was false as the images compares Arctic ice coverage at different times of the year. NASA and the US National Snow and Ice Data Center told AFP the scientific consensus was that Arctic sea ice had retreated by roughly three percent per decade since 1979.

3. Philippine polls

As May 2019 elections approach in the Philippines, misinformation relating to the polls is on the rise. Multiple Facebook posts claimed a photo showed a rally for the party of President Rodrigo Duterte’s daughter, but it was actually from a 2018 gun-reform demonstration in Washington DC. Meanwhile other posts said final testing of vote-count machines had revealed a fault — but the machines have not yet been tested by the election commission.

4. Kashmir hoaxes

One month since a suicide bombing in Kashmir caused tensions to soar between Pakistan and India, false claims relating to the crisis are still circulating. For example, Facebook posts in Pakistan share a video that has been viewed millions of times which they claim shows fighter jets at a Pakistani air base. The video actually shows US fighter jets in South Korea.

5. ‘Mistreated’ Rohingya children

Three elements from different places in Asia came together in this false claim: that a photo of children hanging by their hands from metal bars showed mistreated Rohingya children, shared alongside a warning over the possible repercussions of communist rule in Indonesia. But in fact the photo was an old shot from 2003 of child gymnasts in China during a training session.

1. http://u.afp.com/EthiopianCrash

2. http://u.afp.com/ArcticIceCover

3. http://u.afp.com/PakJets2

4. http://u.afp.com/PHballot

5. http://u.afp.com/IndoRohingya

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.