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AFP Fact Check articles of the week

August 28, 2020

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

1. Big Tech and Covid-19

A screenshot showing the Covid-19 Exposure Notification System, a contact tracing programme developed by Apple and Google, has been viewed thousands of times on Facebook, Twitter, Telegram, and Instagram.

It accompanies a claim that the interface has been secretly inserted onto phones and tracks the location of users.

But the interface does not track location, requires activation and can be turned off at any time, according to Google, Apple and independent experts.

2. Trump’s son peddles falsehoods

Eric Trump, US President Donald Trump’s second son, falsely claimed that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden pledged to defund the police and raise taxes on most Americans if elected.

The remarks were given at the Republican National Convention and are in direct contrast to Biden’s stated policy positions.

Trump also misconstrued his father’s record on ending military conflicts.

3. New Zealand vaccine policy

A video claiming New Zealand’s ruling party has changed the law to “force” citizens to get a coronavirus vaccine has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

The claim is false. The video, which was created by an opposition party, deceptively edits parliamentary speeches that were actually on plans to require people entering New Zealand to be vaccinated against Covid-19 — not a mandatory immunisation programme for citizens.

4. Myanmar votes

An image that claims to show strong support for Myanmar’s ruling party in early overseas voting in South Korea has been shared thousands of times on Facebook.

The claim, however, is false. Overseas voter registration was still ongoing when the misleading posts were published and Myanmar’s Election Commission has not announced the official early voting date.

Myanmar’s Embassy in Seoul said the final overseas voter lists would not be announced until October 2020.

5. Covid-19 and children

A flyer shared on Facebook claims that children have little chance of dying of Covid-19, that they have essentially no chance of spreading the disease asymptomatically and that they face a series of risks from wearing face masks.

Doctors and health authorities, however, refuted the claims, saying that children are affected by the disease and should wear masks.

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