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AFP Fact Check articles of the week

December 20, 2019

AFP’s fact-check service debunks misinformation spread online. Here are some of our recent fact-checks:

1. Thai opposition leader’s military service questioned

An image has been shared hundreds of times on social media alongside a claim that it proves the leader of Future Forward, a Thai opposition party, “faked” his military conscription documents. The claim is false; the image of the purported documents is actually a stock image previously used on Wikipedia. The Royal Thai Army confirmed that the politician completed his military service in 2001.

2. Christmas parade fuels disinformation

Social media posts shared hundreds of thousands of times purport to show “migrants” being beaten after they tried to disrupt a Christmas parade on Italy’s border with Austria. However, the organisers of the parade and the town’s mayor say the people in the video were not immigrants. In fact, what the footage shows is typical during “Krampuslauf” festive parades, during which people dressed as devils chase locals through the streets.

3. Animal extinctions not on the decline

A tweet shared thousands of times includes misleading figures regarding polar bear, whale and koala populations and falsely claims that extinctions are on the decline overall. “The number of people having an interest in spreading misinformation about the status of polar bears is surprisingly high, and a source of despair for us working in the area,” one expert told AFP.

4. South Korea targets Hong Kong police?

An article circulating online claims that South Korea, in response to human rights concerns, will imprison Hong Kong police officers and their families if they try to enter the country. The claim is false; the purported article has been doctored and includes a misleading headline. Seoul’s consulate in Hong Kong refuted the claim.

5. New Zealand volcano eruption

A video has been viewed tens of thousands of times in Facebook and YouTube posts which claim that it is live footage of a volcano eruption on New Zealand’s White Island. The claim is false; the footage is actually from a simulation video of an undersea volcanic eruption shown at a museum in New Zealand.






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