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AFP Fact Check articles of the week

June 7, 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. Anti-Trump protests

US President Donald Trump’s state visit to Britain has drawn thousands to the streets in protest, with a balloon portraying the leader as a nappy-clad baby flying once again over London. Old photos and videos of previous UK anti-Trump protests — most taken during his last visit in July 2018 — are being recirculated alongside false claims that they show the June 2019 demonstrations.

2. Dutch euthanasia

Reports in several international media this week that a Dutch teenager was euthanised after being traumatised by a childhood rape went viral and even appeared to spark a reaction from Pope Francis. But the reports were false; 17-year-old Noa Pothoven died at home after refusing food and drink, according to her parents.

3. Tree-planting in the Philippines

In another example of international media getting the facts wrong, multiple news outlets reported that a new law had been adopted in the Philippines requiring students to plant at least 10 trees before they graduate. But the legislation had only been passed by the Philippines’ lower house, not by the Senate — according to the country’s constitution, both houses must approve legislation and send it to the president for signing before it actually becomes law.

4. Sri Lanka arms amnesty

A month after Sri Lanka’s deadly Easter Sunday bombings, photos were shared thousands of times in online posts that said they showed Muslim militants handing over a haul of weapons to the military. The photos do show Muslim groups surrendering weapons, but the event took place in 2009, not after the 2019 attacks.

5. Blue owl?

A striking image purporting to show a blue owl with bright pink eyes was shared thousands of times in Facebook and posts with the caption: “The beautiful owl of Madagascar”. AFP found that the image had been doctored from a photo of a brown Guatemalan pygmy owl.

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