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AFP Fact Check articles of the week

August 23, 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. Amazon forest fires

This week saw an outpouring of social media posts decrying forest fires in the Amazon rainforest, many of them under the hashtag #PrayforAmazonas. But some of the most viral posts are misleading, including either photographs of the Amazon that are years old or images taken in other parts of the world.

2. Kashmir misinformation crisis

Two weeks after the Indian government revoked the semi-autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir, old videos and images of previous lockdowns are still circulating on social media with misleading captions claiming them to be recent. Much of the content, including a video claiming to show a large gathering of people protesting against the government’s decision in Kashmir, has been debunked by AFP.

3. Chinese troops in Hong Kong?

Video posts purporting to show Chinese troops entering Hong Kong amid the city’s ongoing pro-democracy protests cropped up again on social media this week. A video showing uniformed soldiers at a train station was viewed more than one million times alongside claims that it showed Chinese soldiers in Hong Kong. In reality, the video showed a railway station in Guangzhou.

4. Death sentence for Christian missionaries?

Posts urging people to pray for 22 Christian missionaries facing a death sentence in Afghanistan have resurfaced on social media in Africa. One widely-shared post including a photograph likely shows an execution by Islamists in Iraq, not Afghanistan, and has been circulating online since 2009.

5. Misleading mass shootings tweet

A misleading tweet comparing mass shootings in various countries in 2019 was found circulating on Twitter this month after a shooting in the US state of Ohio. It claimed that the United States had experienced 249 mass shootings so far this year, whereas countries like Brazil only suffered one. The numbers were misleading due to differing definitions of the term by country — for instance, the US includes gang-related violence in its count of “mass shootings” whereas other countries do not.

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

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

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

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

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

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