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HomeFact CheckWeekly Misinformation Wrap: Fake News Thrives As Disaster Strikes Turkey & Syria

Weekly Misinformation Wrap: Fake News Thrives As Disaster Strikes Turkey & Syria

A massive earthquake that jolted Turkey and Syria on Monday, killing at least 23,000, remained the epicentre of the majority of social media conversations throughout the week. And as an expected consequence, misinformation followed.

The Right Recipe For Misinformation

From extreme weather patterns to natural disasters, social media has an appetite for anything that is out of the ordinary. Within minutes of such extreme events, as a pattern, user generated content, showing the horror and impact of the disaster, starts flooding social media, resulting in a deluge of content- so much that it becomes difficult to tell apart genuine ones from misinformation.

The same was observed in the case of the recent earthquake in Turkey and Syria.

Newschecker debunked 58 claims related to Turkey and Syria across 12  languages.

In most cases, old and unrelated videos showing buildings collapsing due to a variety of reasons, were linked to the recent earthquake. For instance, this video showing a building in Florida collapsing due to structural issues, and this video showing a building being demolished in Saudi Arabia were both linked to the Turkey earthquake.

Screengrab of tweet by @ismailrojbayani

Another set of videos showed massive waves lapping up shorelines and sweeping away cars and other vehicles. These videos were shared to claim that the earthquake had triggered a Tsunami, while there was no such occurrence.

Old videos of earthquakes were recycled, and shared in the current context. Like this video from Japan’s devastating 2011 earthquake. Videos from the previous tumblers that rocked Turkey also resurfaced, with users claiming them to be recent, like this & this.

Videos showing unnatural behaviour among birds also flooded the internet, with many claiming that the disturbed and confused behaviour was premonition by the avians- but the video shared was from Houston, and not Turkey.

And last but not least, the image that tugged at the heart strings of one & all- of a dog sitting next to a person apparently buried in a pile of rubble. The viral image however, was found to be a stock image, unrelated to the recent earthquake.

Screengrab of tweet by @domdyer70

And as the international community came together to the aid of Turkey, a section of Indian media had a different news to share- one which claimed that Pakistan refused airspace for Indian aircraft carrying relief supplies to Turkey- only that the news was not true.

Chinese Spy Balloon, Budget session & A Bollywood Wedding

While the earthquake dominated the social media landscape, another development took  netizens by shock- the US Dept of Defence announced that it had shot down a Chinese ‘spy balloon’. While many shared footage showing the ‘spy balloon’ burst into grey smoke after being fired at by the US Air Force, others shared a simulation video, mistaking it to be a close-range footage of the incident.

Back home in India, the ongoing budget session saw Rahul Gandhi tear into the treasury bench, raising the Adani issue in parliament, while the PM hit back with an equally fiery response. The repercussions were felt on social media, when users shared an old image of the Congress leader, falsely claiming to show him with the chief of Hindenburg Research. An altered video of union minister Nitin Gadkari refraining from clapping during the PM’s speech also went viral.

Bluffmasters also cashed in on the frenzy created by the Bollywood wedding of Kiara Advani and Sidharth Malhotra, sharing an old video of the couple on the dance floor, as recent.

Screengrab of Instagram post by @quickkhabar

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