Fake news follows migrant caravan

Fake news follows migrant caravan

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Media captionTrump and the facts about the migrant caravan

A row raging over the migrant caravan travelling towards the United States is being fuelled by misinformation and false statements online.

Thousands of migrants have got as far as Mexico, after the caravan which set out from Honduras has travelled north and grown in size.

The caravan’s progress towards the US southern border has become the subject of intense speculation and discussion on social media.

A number of false or misleading assertions are among those to be shared widely.

Claim: Mexican police assaulted by migrants

Image copyright EPA

It’s an eye-grabbing image: a bloodied Mexican federal police agent is helped by a colleague bearing a riot shield.

Prominent pro-Trump Facebook pages are among those to have shared it with their followers, alongside the claim it shows an officer “brutalised by members of the caravan as they attempt to force their way into Mexico”. The claim has been widely shared on both Facebook and Twitter.

It’s not true. Photojournalist Gustavo Aguado took the picture in October 2012 during clashes between police and students at a Mexican high school.

Claim: Migrant caravan funded by Democrats and George Soros

On Wednesday, Republican congressman Matt Gaetz tweeted a video he said showed Hondurans being paid to join the migrant caravan.

Billionaire philanthropist George Soros, who is something of a pantomime villain in the eyes of many on the right, might be behind the payments, Gaetz suggested.

President Trump was among those to share the footage, which has been viewed millions of times, while the claims that migrants have been in some way funded by Soros or the Democrats have continued to be repeated on social media.

There does not appear to be any evidence of this and none appears to have been offered.

Mr Soros’s philanthropic organisation Open Society denies any involvement and the video itself was actually filmed in Guatemala, a fact which Gaetz later acknowledged he had got wrong.

Guatemalan journalist Luis Assardo posted details on Twitter about his efforts to investigate the claims.

Assardo said he had spoken to locals who told him money, food and clothing were being handed out by local retailers to those in the caravan, up to a maximum of about $25 (£19) each.

Earlier this month President Trump, without evidence, accused Mr Soros of paying women protesting against the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

On Monday, New York police said they had safely destroyed a suspected letter bomb sent to Mr Soros’s home.

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Claim: ‘Unknown Middle Easterners’ among caravan

On Monday, President Trump asserted that “unknown Middle Easterners” were “mixed in” with the caravan heading north.

His assertion came shortly after Fox and Friends host Pete Hegseth reported claims that Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales had told a local newspaper they had caught more than 100 Islamic State group fighters in the country.

Reporters on the ground, including BBC correspondent Aleem Maqbool, have not seen “unknown Middle Easterners” among the migrants heading north.

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