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AFP Fact Check articles of the week

September 18, 2020

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

1. California bill

Facebook and Instagram posts shared thousands of times make false and misleading claims about a bill in the US state of California and the ability of courts to keep children safe from sexual predators. The misinformation includes a claim that the bill decriminalises statutory rape. This is false. The legislation is intended to end what the bill’s backers say is discrimination against LGBTQ youth in a law governing the state’s sex offender registry.

2. Pakistan murder

A photo of Gul Panra, a popular Pakistani Pashto singer, has been shared multiple times on Facebook and Twitter alongside a claim that Panra was shot dead in the Pakistani city of Peshawar. Gul Panra, however, is alive and well. The posts circulated after a transgender woman by the same name was murdered in Peshawar.

3. Twin elephants

After the rare sighting of twin elephant calves in Sri Lanka in July 2020, misleading claims and old photographs have circulated on Facebook. Some posts falsely claim the Sri Lankan pair were the first twin baby elephants born in South Asia. Other posts share images of elephants in South Africa, misrepresenting them as recent photos of the new baby elephants.

4. Viral conspiracy video

As social media platforms fight to curb a wave of online conspiracy theories, a video by far-right US broadcaster Alex Jones claiming the coronavirus outbreak is a “hoax” has been viewed more than one million times in recent months. AFP debunked the viral video, which includes numerous false claims such as that a lack of sunlight causes outbreaks in urban areas. It’s “total rubbish,” one expert said.

5. China’s first daughter

A video of a woman singing has been shared hundreds of times in Facebook posts that claim the footage shows a performance by Xi Mingze, daughter of Chinese President Xi Jinping, at her graduation ceremony from Harvard University in 2014. The claim is false. The video has circulated since 2008 in a post about a performance by a Japanese singer.


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