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AFP Fact Check articles of the week

February 28, 2020

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

1. Conspiracy theorists target bullied Australian boy

Multiple posts on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube claimed a nine-year-old Australian boy with dwarfism, Quaden Bayles, was actually an adult. The misleading posts were published shortly after a viral video of Bayles was shared by his mother in which he described being bullied due to his genetic condition. But AFP found previous media interviews with Bayles and his family and their digital footprints over the past decade were consistent with him being nine years old.

2. Zambia gas attacks

Zambia was shaken earlier this month by a wave of robberies and attacks carried out by criminal gangs who used noxious gas to immobilise civilian victims. The violence was followed by several false and misleading claims made on Facebook that sowed major political discord and, according to the government, sparked riots and lynchings. AFP investigated how the misinformation started and debunked several of the claims.

3. Coronavirus burial ground hoax

A photo was shared hundreds of times in multiple Chinese-language posts on Facebook and Twitter which claimed it showed a mass burial ground for “virus victims”. The posts were published as the novel coronavirus spread worldwide after it was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019. The image, however, was in fact a screenshot from the trailer of the 2011 movie “Contagion”.

4. Fake pro-Trump quotes attributed to Henry Kissinger

Several Facebook posts were shared tens of thousands of times that attributed flattering comments about US President Donald Trump to former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. However, the remarks were fabricated, a spokesperson for the veteran diplomat told AFP. The misleading posts also combined false quotes with actual remarks made by Kissinger, who remains a prominent and controversial figure on foreign policy matters.

5. Coronavirus panic buying hoax

A video was viewed tens of thousands of times in multiple posts on Facebook and Twitter which claimed the footage showed shoppers scrambling to enter a supermarket in China after the novel coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan. The claim was false. The video has circulated in media reports since at least October 2019, two months before the viral outbreak was first reported.







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