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AFP Fact Check articles of the week

January 8, 2021

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

1. US Capitol stormed

Social media posts claim Antifa, a far-left movement, stormed the US Capitol. But it was Donald Trump loyalists — some with hats or flags identifying them as such — who breached the building where Congress meets. Images provided as evidence of Antifa involvement show one man who is a supporter of the president and another who is allegedly linked to a skinhead group.

2. Vice President Pence

Social media posts shared after supporters of Donald Trump broke into the US Capitol claim Vice President Mike Pence unfollowed the president and changed his Twitter banner to an image of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, signaling support for the incoming Democratic administration. This is false. Pence was still following Trump on the social media platform as of January 7, 2021, and the image in question shows the vice president and his wife, not Biden and Harris.

3. Myanmar election

Photographs of burned ballot papers have been shared in Facebook posts that claim they show evidence of fraud in the 2020 Myanmar elections. The photos, however, actually show ballots from Myanmar’s 2015 election which were destroyed by local authorities after the poll, in accordance with election law.

4. Covid-19 vaccine

A screenshot circulating on social media claims that former US President Barack Obama has urged Africans to reject Covid-19 vaccines. This is false. Obama has publicly urged people to get vaccinated, calling it “one of the most important things” to do.

5. Islam in Austria

Facebook posts circulating in Sri Lanka claim Austria has banned Muslims from engaging in politics. This is misleading. Although Austrian lawmakers attempted to curb “political Islam” with a bill due to be voted on shortly, this controversial term was dropped from the text following widespread criticism.

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