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AFP Fact Check articles of the week

February 21, 2020

AFP Fact Check debunks misinformation spread online. Here are some of our recent investigations:

1. Mike Bloomberg posts misleading video after debate debut

A video was shared by the official account for US presidential hopeful Mike Bloomberg that appeared to show other Democratic candidates left seemingly speechless following a remark he made regarding his business record during the Democratic primary debate this week. But the clip was edited to include lengthy silences in order to portray his rivals as lost for words. In fact, there was only a gap of one second between Bloomberg’s remark and him continuing to speak.

2. Car crash at coronavirus roadblock?

A video of a car smashing into police vehicles has been viewed tens of thousands of times in multiple posts on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Weibo alongside a claim that the incident happened at a police roadblock in Wuhan, the Chinese city at the epicentre of the global novel coronavirus outbreak. The claim is false. The footage actually shows a staged car crash in China’s Heilongjiang province that was filmed for a Chinese film released in 2018.

3. Misleading ‘Wuhan sulphur dioxide’ map

A map was shared tens of thousands of times in multiple posts on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube that claimed it showed elevated sulphur dioxide levels in Wuhan, the Chinese city at the epicentre of the novel coronavirus epidemic. The posts, published in multiple languages, claimed the high levels of the gas could be evidence of mass cremation in and around the city. The claim is false; NASA, whose data was used to create the map, told AFP the imagery was created based on forecast figures of man-made sulphur dioxide emissions and volcano gas, not real-time satellite recordings.

4. ‘Thyroid guard’ not recommended for mammograms

Facebook and Instagram posts shared tens of thousands of times in North America claim there is a link between a rise in thyroid cancer in women and the improper use of protective equipment during mammograms. But medical experts say radiation exposure to the thyroid from mammography is negligible, and studies show using a “thyroid guard” during a mammogram may obscure the image.

5. The effects of gold and garlic on cancer

A video shared tens of thousands of times on social media claims to show a test proving that wearing gold can worsen cancer while garlic repels the disease. The assertions are false. Health experts say that while garlic has some anti-carcinogenic properties, it cannot cure cancer. Regarding gold, research actually suggests that the metal may have beneficial properties.

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