The New Year holidays saw no lack of fake news and disinformation during New Year holidays. Even the National Security Service had to follow the traces of one of the fake news, as it was considered a threat to the national security of the Republic of Armenia.
The Fact Investigation Platform has identified the most popular fake news spread during New Year holidays.
Nikol Pashinyan congratulated US President on “successful” operation
The fake page called “Diana Harutyunyan” posted on Facebook on January 3 that Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan congratulated the US President on the action taken against Iran’s top military official. The false information quickly spread in the Iranian and Azerbaijani media.
The Information Verification Center adjunct to the RA Government issued a press release in several languages, noting that Prime Minister Pashinyan has not sent any letter of similar content to the US President.
The Prime Minister also referred to the disinformation on January 4, writing on his Facebook page: “This is the case when the false ‘freedom’ of speech poses a threat to our national security. The authors of the news and their motives need to be disclosed”.
On January 5, the National Security Service reported that it had arrested a young man who uses the name “Diana Harutyunyan” on Facebook. In a video published by the National Security Service, a user named Diana Harutyunyan said he had no idea his post would have such consequences.
Australia from outer space. Photo published by NASA
On January 5, a picture of “Australia from outer space” was circulated on Facebook, allegedly published by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The picture depicting Australia’s recent forest fires spread not only in Armenian, but also in international media and Facebook platforms.
However, the picture was not taken from space, but was a 3D visualization. Author of the picture Anthony Hearsay wrote on his Facebook page that the picture does not show the fires at that point in time, but all the fires in the area during the period of December 5 to January 5 that he obtained from NASA.
By the way, old photographs are also widely used in publications and posts about wildfires in Australia. For instance, the pictures of kangaroos hugging each other or firefighters giving water to koalas were taken in 2009 during a wildfire in the Australian forests.
In 2019 the bonuses of the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports made 1,774,225,600 AMD
The Antifake.am website, which is considered a fact-checking site, issued a report on January 6 according to which in 2019, the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports paid bonuses totaling 1,774,225,600 AMD.
However, the information was not true. Fip.am also referred to the wrong publication. Thus, the total salary fund of the ministry was 1 billion 774 million AMD, of which 456 million AMD was allocated to the bonuses. In fact, Antifake.am distorted the facts.
As of 2019 Armenia surpasses not only Georgia but also Azerbaijan with GDP per capita
On January 6, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan also spread false information. He wrote on his Facebook page that as of 2019, Armenia surpassed not only Georgia, but also Azerbaijan with its GDP per capita.
In particular, he wrote: “People, do you remember that I announced at the National Assembly that as of 2019 we will surpass Georgia with GDP per capita and Azerbaijan as of 2020?
It turns out that as of the end of 2019 we have surpassed both Georgia and Azerbaijan, becoming the leading country in the South Caucasus.”
The Prime Minister then edited his post, noting that there were inaccuracies there.
“P.S. The previous version of the post contained inaccuracies, for which I apologize. Apparently, we haven’t surpassed Azerbaijan yet, but we will do that by the end of the year at the latest. Together…” Pashinyan added.
From January 1, the salary of those who receive a salary of 150,000 AMD will decrease by 3700 AMD
On January 7, the Tert.am website wrote that “the salary of those who receive a salary of 150,000 AMD will decrease by 3700 AMD, and for those who receive 2 million AMD it will increase by 210,000 AMD. The amendments to the Tax Code have entered into force on January 1.” The wrong analytical article was spread on other websites as well. At the end of the day, however, the site corrected its mistake, noting that the salary of those who receive 150,000 AMD would remain unchanged.
The working week to consist of 4 days in Finland
On January 7, international media websites reported that the Finnish Prime Minister offered to make the working week 4 days in the country, and the working day – 6 hours. The news spread in some Armenian websites, and was even “re-edited” with the assertion “The working week to consist of 4 days in Finland”.
However, the Finnish government denied the allegation on their Twitter page, and said in a statement that there was no talk of a four-day working week in the program of the Finnish government, and that there was no such issue on their agenda. Prime Minister Sanna Marin had merely made such a brief suggestion during one of the discussions last August, while still holding the post of Transport Minister, but no action has been taken so far.
Four soldiers die in a car accident
On January 7, some media outlets reported that four soldiers were killed in a car crash, showing photos of the crash on November 7, 2018. Defense Ministry spokesman Artsrun Hovhannisyan wrote on his Facebook page: “Do not spread misinformation. There was no accident today.”
On the same day News.am website reported that on January 5 two servicemen were killed in Artsakh. Speaking to RFE/RL, the Defense Ministry spokesman said two servicemen had been involved in a car accident with a private car in Artsakh but had not been killed.