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NOT REAL NEWS: A look at what didn’t happen this week

in News

By BEATRICE DUPUY and ARIJETA LAJKA Associated Press

A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. None of these is legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked them out. Here are the real facts:

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CLAIM: Following a ban on face masks, protesters in Hong Kong use wearable face projectors that trick the facial recognition system used by the government.

THE FACTS: A video circulating on social media that shows a wearable projector is conceptual. It doesn’t work. Artist Jing-cai Liu designed the head piece along with a group of students at the University of Arts Utrecht. Liu told The Associated Press in an email that the artwork was designed to show how privacy might be protected in public places. “It was made to be a thought provoking art piece,” she said. Liu’s website features a video of a woman wearing the head gear as images are beamed onto her face to simulate how it would work. The video, labeled as showing a working face projector, began circulating widely on social media after Hong Kong instituted an emergency ordinance to ban masks at rallies. Liu said her piece was not intended to be political. She found out that people were sharing her video in relation to the protests when her friends began tagging her in posts with the false caption.

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CLAIM: Video shows a banner stating “Betrayed and murdered the Kurdish people” hanging from Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas.

THE FACTS: The video posted on Twitter on Oct. 9 was digitally altered to add a massive yellow and black banner stating “Betrayed and murdered the Kurdish people! Greenpeace” under the Trump name. The video circulated widely on social media platforms, receiving more than 3.3 million views on Twitter alone by midday Friday. The video was created by @PaulLidicul in response to President Donald Trump’s decision earlier this week to pull U.S. troops out of northeast Syria, which opened the way to attacks by Turkey on U.S-allied Kurdish forces. Trump’s decision was criticized for abandoning Kurdish allies who helped drive the Islamic State group from the region. Some users criticized @PaulLidicul, a play on the word political, for posting a fake video, but other responded as if it were authentic. “Thank you VEGAS…!! #KurdsBetrayedByTrump,” stated one tweet that shared the video. The same video was used by @PaulLeeTicks, a now suspended Twitter account, to create a similar post, which showed a banner on the hotel stating “ConcentrationCamps! Greenpeace.” Greenpeace USA responded to the @PaulLidicul post tweeting, “We want to make clear that this is a computer generated animation and not executed by Greenpeace.” Travis Nichols, media director for Greenpeace USA, told the AP that the group does not know why their name was included on the banner. “We do real action in real places, and take real risks,” Nichols said. In July 2017, Greenpeace activists hung a banner off the Trump tower in Chicago. Trump hotel officials did not respond to requests for comment.

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CLAIM: Photo shows a massive crowd in Baghdad demonstrating in early October against corruption.

THE FACTS: The photo was taken in 2017, not during recent protests. Social media users began sharing the falsely captioned photo during recent protests in Iraq. The country has been embroiled in anti-government clashes as protesters demand jobs, improved services and an end to corruption. The photo, which shows flags being waved in a tightly packed crowd in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, was taken on March 24, 2017, by Reuters photographer Alaa Al-Marjani. The caption on the photo says it shows “supporters of the Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr” gathering in Tahrir Square to demonstrate against corruption. Recent violent protests against government corruption have left more than 100 people dead and thousands wounded, the AP reported Wednesday. Security forces have used live ammunition and tear gas to quell the protests.

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CLAIM: Video shows migrant children attacking a teacher and vandalizing a classroom in Europe.

THE FACTS: A video showing students rampaging in a classroom circulated on Facebook in early October with a false caption that stated in French: “migrant children at school.” The incident actually occurred in May 2019 at a school in Brazil. In the video, students throw books and push desks toward the teacher. The teacher confronts some of the students and then leaves the room while the students continue the disruption. “Now you understand why our teachers are not doing well anymore and why there are so many who are looking for another job,” wrote the Facebook user who identified the students as migrants. The post, which appeared to be from Belgium, received more than 950,000 views. The incident occurred in May at the Maria de Lourdes Teixeira School in Carapicuiba, a municipality in São Paulo. Multiple news outlets in Brazil reported on the incident at the time. São Paulo’s Governor João Doria also tweeted about the attack in early June. According to the online news site G1, the Carapicuíba Regional Board of Education said in a statement that the students were suspended.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

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