Member of fact check team at Media Initiatives Center
In the second half of April, the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris burned, bringing with it conspiracy theories. Several rumors on mushroom websites regarding a city being discovered on Mars have been denied.
The Paris fires
The Cathedral of Notre Dame was on fire on the evening of April 15. In social media, users made posts distributing photos and videos. News outlets were broadcasting the fire, and live blogs were broadcasting the news.
But only verified news wasn’t being spread. Both in Armenia and in other countries, conspiracy theories have been spreading about the possible cause of the fire. The Turks and the Jews appeared on the “accused chair.” Some even found a connection between the event and the New Zealand terrorist act in March.
A few days later, on April 23, fake news spread about the fire of the Palace of Versailles. Armenian mass media, following the lead of Russian media, spread unverified news. As it turns out, in fact, Versailles was not burning, but a car renovation and repair shop which was located 2.5 kilometers away.
Le Pen. Artsakh should join Armenia
On April 22, news spread that Marion Le Pen said, “It would be more desirable than independence if Armenia and Azerbaijan reach an agreement that would allow Nagorno Karabakh to reunite with Armenia.”
Fip.am wrote about France’s recent announcement made during the 2017 presidential election campaign. As media outlets which disseminate similar information, they brought examples from GALA TV and hayeli.am. But this series did not end with them.
City on Mars
The topic of finding traces of civilization on Mars periodically make the news. This time on April 19-20, a video was being spread which was posted on December 21, 2017, by the YouTube channel Территория Непознанного, where the РЕН ТВ logo is visible.
The video appeared as a flash of news across a series of news websites including socialmedia.am, news.armblog.am, todaylife.ru, haypress.ru and orakarg.ru. By the way, the links to the last two take you to the same website.
In all of the above websites, the title was “VIDEO MATERIAL: Astronomers are in shock: A city has been found on Mars” followed by a text consisting of two sentences repeating the content of the title and poses the question “A question arises, is there life on Mars?”
16 years old, 3 underage pregnancies
One of the topics in the second half of April was the case of three pregnant teenagers from the Armavir province.
The news reached the Parliamentary Chair: Gevorg Gorisyan, from the Bright Armenia party, touched upon the problems of the education system, saying “School teachers today literally testify how three pupils were pregnant during class. We already have such issues in the field of education.”
Nelli Duryan, head of the Department for Justice and Prevention of Juvenile Domestic Violence, responded to this from the police. She clarified on her Facebook page “... three teenagers got married and relatives of both sides were present at their wedding ceremonies. It also turned out that the three adolescents had sex after turning 16 years old.”
Duryan also informed that the preliminary materials on the refusal to initiate a criminal case were made because of Article 141 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Armenia, it is not permitted to have sexual intercourse or perform sexual acts against a person under the age of sixteen.
A few other denials
- NA MP, Lilit Mankuts, head of the “My Step” alliance parliamentary faction, denied the rumors that a Toyota Camry was bought specifically for her. She posted on Facebook a picture of the vehicle’s registration certificate and car driving indicator. Makunts also informed that the car had been acquired by the National Assembly in 2015.
Alina Nikoghosyan, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health, posted on her Facebook page on April 19, regarding the material published on the website Armdaily.am, “The soldiers are starving at Nork infection hospital, an alert from a parent.”
The press secretary wrote that the hospital administration officially states that the material is misleading. The military unit’s food is supplied by the Ministry of Defense, according to the RA Armed Forces menu, and in some cases, the parents bring additional food at their discretion. They also deny the idea that “a soldier has to go downstairs to receive his food,” bringing the argument that the doors to the department are always closed.
The website shabat.am published a video, “The Real Owners and Political Roofs: The Image of The Media Field in Armenia,” on April 21m which became an occasion for denial and for the demands of denial. The website, separating 61 “fair media outlets,” has made the following division of the media field, “Free,” “Anti-Governmental or Anti-Revolutionary,” and “Authority Supporting” media.
For each media outlet, the video gives the owner’s name and contact information on the basis of which the classification is performed.
However, this classification was not strictly accepted by the media. For example, for iravaban.net and mediamax.am, at the request of the latter, the site’s video has already been denied. However, the second demand of mediamax.am, removing their media outlet from the video on the basis of false information, has remained unfulfilled.
1in.am also demanded a denial from shabat.am.