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AFP Fact Check articles of the week

October 30, 2020

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

1. Pakistan civil war claims

After Pakistani media reported on a dispute between police and the army over the arrest of an opposition politician, scores of Facebook and Twitter posts claimed Pakistan was on the brink of civil war. The posts were amplified by mainstream Indian media, which broadcast false and misleading information, including reports that 10 police officers had been killed. While Pakistan’s army and police did have a disagreement over the politician’s arrest, the government said no shots were fired and dismissed reports of civil war as “malicious and fabricated”.

2. Sanitary towels in South Korea

Multiple posts on Facebook and Naver, South Korea’s largest web portal, claim that 97% of sanitary towels in distribution contain carcinogenic chemicals. The claim is misleading. The data cited in the posts refer to a 2017 government report that concluded only traces of such chemicals were found and that they did not pose health risks. The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety also said annual safety tests have consistently found that “all” sanitary towels in South Korea are safe.

3. French footballer

A claim that French football player Paul Pogba has retired in protest over French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent comments about radical Islam has been shared hundreds of times on social media posts in Africa. The claim is false. The football star dismissed the claim, which originated on an Egypt-based sports website, calling it “unacceptable fake news”.

4. False flu death claims

Donald Trump Jr tweeted that the flu killed 75,000 Americans last year and nearly none this year, suggesting that deaths are being miscounted to “manipulate the truth” about the coronavirus pandemic. This is false: the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has counted about 8,000 flu deaths so far in 2020, which are reported separately from Covid-19 deaths. Last season’s flu killed between 24,000 and 62,000 Americans, not 75,000, according to the CDC.

5. IMF and World Bank foundings

Multiple posts shared repeatedly on Facebook claim the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were established by former dictator Ferdinand Marcos and Filipino nationalist Jose Rizal. The claim is false. The World Bank and the IMF were established following the 1944 Bretton Woods conference in the US, five decades after Rizal’s death and two decades before Marcos was elected president.


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