R Radar February 2017

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For a short month, February has been prolific in fake news.

  • Free keychain detector to your home
  • Wax in instant noodles 
  • Eating shrimp and Vitamin C causes death
  • China Glass Bridge collapse
  • Danger of combining Fruit X and Coca-Cola
  • Death from consuming egg and sweet banana
  • Eagle snatches kid
  • 7D park in Japan to touch, feel and smell animals
  • Undigested noodles in intestines

For a short month, February has been prolific in fake news. Some create fear and anxiety, some dwell on morbid sensationalism, some tarnish the reputation of the dead with speculation of immoral behaviour, some prey on the vulnerability of bereaved families.

Food for thought: to those so predisposed towards the worst imaginable happening in any situation, you are not doing yourself and the world any favours; to those so gleeful in spicing up news of other people’s misfortune for the sake of juicy gossip, you wouldn’t like it if it happened to you and your loved ones.

Rumours of fuel price hikes are back, supposedly from March 1. We now know it was false news again.

Meanwhile, all the snippets below are fake news, and hence, rightfully considered as Rubbish. Some hoaxes will keep resurfacing from time to time, so recognise them and don’t be fooled.

Student Thugs in Brawl

A posting on the Facebook wall of a woman who uses the moniker Bini Wat Gandai alleged a group of student thugs from a secondary school in Sibu Jaya had assembled illegally at Town Villa, Sibujaya, to fight and commit violence.

In a report by the Borneo Post, the Facebook posting on February 24 added that the situation created a public nuisance to the residents of an apartment block in that area and called on the police to take immediate action. Accompanying the status were several photos showing civilians and students in school uniform.

Policemen who were deployed to the school to investigate found the information to be false and no incident had occurred. The Facebook account holder subsequently posted another status accompanied by three photos thanking the police for resolving the matter that never occurred. The police were not amused.

According to the police, the photos of the civilians and students were taken during normal peak hours where parents were sending their children to school.

Initial investigation revealed that the woman obtained the so-called information from her brother-in-law’s WeChat app. She copied and pasted the posting to her Facebook without verifying the truth of the matter.

The brother-in-law gave the excuse that he saw a group of students in front of the school and assumed they were going to fight. He took several photos and posted them in his WeChat.

The woman and her brother-in-law were arrested for disseminating false crime news.

Free Key Chain Detector to Your Home

Appearing as early as in 2008, this hoax has recently resurfaced. Debunked by fact-checking sites such as Hoax-Slayer, the message circulating via social media warns of accepting a free key chain given out at petrol stations because it is a detector that can be used to follow you home. The message includes an image that supposedly depicts the free key chain devices. For the record, there are no credible news or police reports warning about the threat described in the message. Passing on such bogus warnings will help nobody.

Baby Abandoned in Drain

Postings on social media alleged that a baby had been found abandoned in a drain at Pekan Rengit. According to a report by The Star, the Rengit police station received a call from the public that a donation box and a burnt security guard uniform were found near a drain at Jalan Besar Rengit. Police said both items were recovered but there was no human body.

Instant Noodles Wax Warning

Rumour has it that cups of instant noodles pose a danger to consumers due to their wax linings. This caution against a non-existent lurking threat made its Internet debut in early October 2000. Snopes has a detailed report on this false news.

Burning Camphor & Cardamon Kills Swine Flu

A post circulating on social media asking people to burn camphor and cardamom to kill swine flu. A complete hoax.

BMW Police Cars

A photo of BMW cars, complete with the word ‘POLIS’ on the hood, the PDRM insignia on the side, and the light bars on the roof was making the rounds online and in social media, stirring rumours of PDRM starting to use the luxury cars as police vehicles. The fact is the BMWs are being used by the police but in Le Tour de Langkawi, which started on Feb 22 and ends on Mar 1.

According to an NST report, the cars in the photo are part of the 200 vehicles BMW Group Malaysia has sent for the annual cycling endurance race, which has BMW as its official automotive partner for 2017. But there’s where the truth ends, as speculation that the Malaysian police are acquiring BMWs as part of its fleet is false.

Eating Shrimp and Taking Vitamin C Can Cause Death by Arsenic Poisoning

Circulating health message warns recipients not to eat shrimp or prawns while taking Vitamin C because it can cause a chemical reaction that can lead to sudden death by arsenic poisoning. Complete and utter nonsense.

Allegations in Aftermath of Ruby Lee Shooting

In the aftermath of the Ruby Lee Poh Ai murder, two allegations emerged on social media – that the victim was pregnant, and another shooting incident had occurred two days later in the same area – Glugor in Penang – where Lee was killed. The allegations were refuted by the police. On the two photos that went viral on social media, supposedly of a second fatal shooting, police said they were of the Ruby Lee incident.

China Glass Bridge Collapses

A gruesome video has been circulating online recently, purportedly on the collapse of the famous Zhangjaijie glass bridge in China. The video showed a lot of casualties in a river, with people wailing amidst the chaos.

The footage is real, but it is not of the glass bridge. It was of a suspension bridge in Vietnam three years ago, where three people were reported to have been killed.

Combo of Fruit X and Coca Cola = Dangerous or Death

A popular hoax, Fruit X may be jackfruit, mango or durian, which consumed with Coke apparently is deadly or as poisonous as five cobras’ venom. Currently, making the rounds is the jackfruit-Coca Cola combo.

Child-kidnapping in Sarawak

Facebook postings had alleged that the police had issued a warning to the public about a child-kidnapping syndicate operating in Sibujaya. The postings had two photos of supposed women kidnappers.

The Sarawak police did not issue any such warnings and have arrested a security guard and a driver for posting the fake news.

Netizens should take note that the Sarawak police are serious in taking a hard-line approach towards fake news in social media that can create unnecessary concern and fear among the public. Authorities have already made numerous arrests in recent weeks in Sarawak relating to fake news, so this is no “play play” matter.

“Recommended by a Lawyer” Facebook Privacy Statement

A circulating message that claims because Facebook is now a public entity, all members should post a privacy statement on Facebook to protect their photographs and other information from being used without their permission. Supposedly, posting the statement has been recommended by a lawyer. It’s total nonsense.

Young Man Dies After Consuming Egg and Sweet Banana

The message on social media is compelling, starting with an alarming ‘Emergency News’. What gives it away immediately as a hoax is its ridiculous ending: “Only the bad people are not going to share this because they want to see others die….”

Eagle Snatches Kid

A video showed a golden eagle scooping down, snatching a child, lifting it several feet off the ground, letting go of the kid and then flying off.

According to Snopes, urban legends of eagles making off with young children and small domestic animals have been around for a while. The video of the eagle snatching the child was posted to YouTube in December 2012 – it was a hoax created at Montreal’s National Animation and Design Centre.

Missing Pastor Found

As if Pastor Raymond Koh Keng Joo’s family were not distraught enough, a message on social media in the early days of the abduction case claimed that the missing pastor had been found. This was quickly debunked by the family and the media.

7D Park in Japan to Touch, Feel and Smell the Animals

Several videos and pictures on social media and YouTube purportedly showed an amazing 7D Park in Japan where visitors can touch, feel and even smell various wild animals. The message reads: This is a 7D Park in Japan. You can touch, feel and even smell the animals. We are still in 3D and 4D while Japanese are in 7D.

The video is real. But it does not show any 7D Park in Japan. The amazing clippings are actually taken from 7D Holographic shows.

Razif Sidek Dead

News of the death of former national badminton doubles player Datuk Razif Sidek went viral on social sites. A picture of a man alleged to be Razif lying on a hospital bed was also uploaded. When the fake news was circulating, Razif was attending the Purple League Badminton Championship in Genting Highlands!

Undigested Noodles in Intestines

Another noodles hoax, this time of a photo being circulated on social media claiming to show doctors removing undigested noodles from intestines. The photo is that of intestinal worms, not noodles!

UFO Sighting

A video of a supposed UFO sighting in Malaysia started going viral on social media towards the end of last year. After investigating, fact-checking site Snopes debunked it in early February as a CGI creation posted to YouTube way back in 2007!


Related report: Feb 3, R Radar: Real, Really? Rubbish