Debunked: Fake images and rumours around Paris attacks
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Just like after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January, lots of baseless rumours and fake images are currently being shared on social media after Friday night’s deadly terrorist attacks in Paris. Here, we take a look at a few of those circulating throughout the world. As more hoaxes appear, we will update this article.
If you see anything being shared that seems suspicious, send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll verify or debunk it.
Conspiracy theories are already starting to emerge
Like with the Charlie Hebdo attacks, online conspiracy theorists were already starting to share their far-fetched scenarios, less than 24 hours after the tragedy. In this video, posted on a YouTube "The Matrix Exposed”, a man with an American accent argues that nothing happened at Paris’ Stade de France football stadium. He says that the media, working for the government, are showing fake images of the crowd gathering on the field. His “proof”: he says there are no amateur videos of the scene.
This, of course, is wrong, since many amateur videos of the scene have emerged, for example this one:
This same man published another video (warning: graphic images), this time on another YouTube channel, in which he shares yet another baseless theory. This time, he comments a video showing people injured in the attacks. Here again, though he employs a dramatic tone, he has zero proof. All he does is repeat over and over that people standing around the scene seem to be too calm, which he sees as evidence that they must be “actors”.
Though both videos are baseless, they’re being shared widely on social media. The first video was viewed 18,000 times as of 7.30 pm on November 14. These may be the first conspiracy videos to emerge about these attacks, but they surely won’t be the last.
Revenge on migrants?
These photos have been widely relayed on Arabic social networks. They show a fire that broke out in the Calais migrant camp in northern France which also occured on Friday night. Many Twitter users reposted these images and described the fires as arson attacks by French citizens taking out their anger over the terrorist attacks on the camp’s occupants.
However, local authorities in Calais say the origin of the fire was “clearly accidental”. Fires have repeatedly broken out in the migrant camp in the past, due to the use of gas stoves and open fire pits. No deaths or injuries were reported.
Eiffel Tower goes dark due to attacks?
In the United States and the United Kingdom, images of the Eiffel tower with its lights turned off were widely shared. Some internet users claimed it was the terrorists' doing, while others said the authorities had turned off the lights right after the attacks Friday night in order to honour the dead.
However, neither of these versions is correct. In fact, the Eiffel Tower goes dark every night at 1 am.
Moreover, one of the most widely shared videos of the Eiffel Tower’s lights going off was not even from Friday night – it was published by Sky News last January.
However, the Eiffel tower was indeed dark on Saturday. The authorities announced that the tower was temporarily closed, but that it would reopen Monday afternoon.
A photo of the Bataclan concert?
This photo has been shared over nearly 1,500 times. It is described as a photo from inside the Bataclan concert theatre in Paris which terrorists stormed Friday night killing scores during a show by the American band Eagles of Death Metal.
However, a quick Google Image search reveals that it was not taken in the Bataclan. The photo, which was originally posted on the Eagles of Death Metal’s official Twitter account, shows a concert in Dublin a day prior to the attacks in Paris.
A man injured on a fence as he tried to flee?
This photo was shared on Facebook by Arabic-language accounts. It shows a man who was severely injured as he apparently tried to get over a fence. We have blurred the image below as it is graphic.
The internet user who posted the photo described it as “a man who was trying to flee from the attacks.”
However, this image has nothing to do with the Paris attacks. By doing a reverse search on Google Images, we found that this photo is in fact three years old. It was published by a Senegalese news site in July 2012. The article accompanying the photo explained that the man was a burglar who injured himself as he tried to flee the scene of his crime.
Donald Trump… being Donald Trump?
Yes and no. Donald Trump did write the tweet below. However, he wrote it following the Charlie Hebdo attacks last January, and many internet users are mistakenly sharing it and reacting to it as if he had written after this latest tragedy. Even the French ambassador to the United States fell for it. (He has since deleted this tweet).
This time, Trump took a more diplomatic approach:
My prayers are with the victims and hostages in the horrible Paris attacks. May God be with you all.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 13, 2015