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AFP Fact Check articles of the week

January 15, 2021

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

1. US Democrats’ comments

Multiple social media posts show statements made by prominent US Democrats with pictures of burning buildings to suggest the politicians had previously incited unrest. These politicians include Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and representatives Ayanna Pressley and Maxine Waters. But their purported statements were taken out of context and the full remarks reveal that the Democrats were not calling for violence.

2. Indonesian plane crash

A 30-second video has been viewed thousands of times on Facebook, YouTube and TikTok, alongside the claim that it shows the last moments before Sriwijaya Air Flight SJ 182 crashed off the Indonesian coast in 2021. This claim is false. The video actually shows turbulence during a Lion Air Flight in 2017.

3. Double destination Covid-19 Vaccine?

A screenshot of two news reports have been shared in multiple Facebook posts that claims to show a woman receiving a Covid-19 vaccine both in the UK and South Africa. This claim is false: the photo shows a British woman receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine during a drive through vaccination centre in England. The same image was used for a satirical piece in a South African newspaper.

4. Non-medical masks effective against Covid-19

Facebook posts claim that non-medical masks are ineffective in preventing the spread of Covid-19. This claim is misleading: medical experts have stated that fabric masks offer some form of protection against the virus. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), these masks are recommended to the general public.

5. Illegal Arms Shipment to Nigeria

A post that shows images of men in uniforms standing next to a shipment of weapons has been shared hundreds of times on Facebook alongside claims that it shows illegal firearms in a container carrying food supplies from France to the Bono state in Nigeria. This claim is false: the photos actually show a consignment from Turkey that was intercepted in 2017 at the Tin Can Island port in Nigeria. The shipment contained 440 pump action rifles that were falsely declared as plaster of paris.


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