CORRECTING MISINFORMATION: Weekly Debunking of Viral Falsehoods

by Ryan Lee
fact-checking misinformation

An examination of prevalent yet entirely false narratives and images circulated over the past week has revealed a collection of unsubstantiated claims. Despite their viral nature on social platforms, none of these assertions hold any truth. Fact-checking by The Big Big News has exposed the reality behind these fabrications, and here are the findings:

Austrian Airport Misconception: The Nonexistent ‘Wrong Destination’ Help Desk

CLAIM: A customer service booth at Salzburg Airport is purportedly in place to assist travelers who mistakenly believe they have arrived in Australia.

FACTS: Salzburg Airport has officially debunked the myth of a help desk catering to confused tourists aiming for Australia but landing in Austria instead. The origin of this tale is traced back to an advertisement by a tech firm featured on an airport luggage carousel, playfully suggesting such a service. The fictional claim has entertained users on social media, with one tweet (on a platform previously known as Twitter) garnering significant attention and another Facebook post humorously empathizing with those having a difficult day because of this mix-up. The posts often included a picture of a sign humorously clarifying the Austria-Australia confusion and directing to a nonexistent help button. The sign in question is actually part of a promotional campaign by Commend, a company based in Austria specializing in communication and security technology. The signage, which also directs to Commend’s website, humorously acknowledges the potential for such geographic mix-ups while highlighting their services. Commend’s spokesperson, Wolfgang Peer, clarified to The Big Big News that while the advert did exist, its campaign ended in 2022. He explained that the ad aimed to engage travelers with Commend’s brand and its intercom solutions in a light-hearted manner, leveraging the common joke about Austria’s lack of kangaroos—a humorous nod often used by Austrians conversing in English.

— The Big Big News journalist Melissa Goldin, based in New York, reported this story.

Yemen-Israel Conflict Misrepresentations on Social Media

CLAIM: There is a viral declaration that Yemen has officially entered a state of war against Israel.

FACTS: The legitimate government of Yemen has not announced any such declaration of war on Israel. The Houthi rebels, who control the nation’s capital, did engage in missile launches towards Israeli sites this week and made threats of continued assaults. However, this falls short of a full-scale war proclamation. The erroneous assertion spread via social media, accompanied by a video of a military official speaking Arabic, with a user declaring that Yemen had proclaimed war on Israel. Nonetheless, the Houthi rebels’ action, including missile and drone strikes, does not equate to an official war declaration by Yemen’s recognized government, which currently operates out of Riyadh and Aden. Experts, including Thomas Juneau of the University of Ottawa and Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution, have pointed out the distinction between the Houthi-controlled regions and the official Yemeni government, emphasizing the inaccuracy of the claims. Although the Houthi militia, backed by Iran, has initiated hostile actions and threatened further aggression, these acts are not indicative of the entire nation’s stance. The strikes, while escalatory, are conditional, with Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree stating they would continue unless Israel ceased its activities in Palestinian territories.

— Philip Marcelo in New York and Jon Gambrell in Dubai contributed to this report for The Big Big News.

Misdated Korean Summit Video Resurfaces, Misleading Social Users

CLAIM: A purportedly recent video showcases a significant meeting between the North and South Korean leaders, which has been overlooked by major media outlets.

FACTS: The video in question is, in reality, over half a decade old and captured an event extensively reported by global news organizations. Despite this, it was erroneously presented on social media as a neglected significant diplomatic event. The viral video depicts the 2018 meeting between Kim Jong Un and then-South Korean President Moon Jae-in in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), falsely claiming to be unreported contemporary footage. However, this meeting was a well-documented and widely covered historical occurrence, marking the first time a North Korean leader had entered South Korean territory since the Korean War’s cessation. Major media, including The Big Big News, provided extensive coverage of this landmark summit, negating the claim of a media blackout. The source of the resurfaced footage was The Guardian’s coverage, identifiable by its watermark in the video. This meeting, which took place in Panmunjom, was not only reported but also broadcasted worldwide at the time, with media capturing the leaders’ handshake and shared walk along the border, contrary to the claims of recent social media posts.

— Reporter Philip Marcelo for The Big Big News.

For verified fact-checking content, visit: https://bigbignews.net/APFactCheck

Stay informed with the latest corrections by following: https://twitter.com/APFactCheck

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about fact-checking misinformation

Does Salzburg Airport have a help desk for travelers who confuse it with Australia?

No, Salzburg Airport does not have a help desk for such travelers. The story originated from an advertisement by a technology company and has been shared incorrectly on social media.

Has Yemen declared war on Israel?

Yemen’s internationally recognized government has not declared war on Israel. The Houthi rebels, who control part of Yemen, have launched missiles but have not officially declared war.

Did news outlets ignore a recent summit between Korean leaders?

No, the summit between the leaders of North Korea and South Korea that went viral recently actually took place in 2018 and was extensively covered by global media at the time.

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Markus88 November 4, 2023 - 10:22 am

so yemen’s not at war with Israel? the news these days, you never know whats true or not

KimJoonHoFan November 4, 2023 - 7:08 pm

that vid of the Korean leaders is old news why people keep sharing stuff without checking the dates

DaveRuns November 4, 2023 - 9:13 pm

these fact checks are vital, I swear my uncle believes every fake story he reads on facebook and then he starts arguing about it at family dinners

TravelBugBeth November 4, 2023 - 9:24 pm

lol at the Austria not Australia sign, would’ve been such a funny service though honestly with how confusing air travel can be

Jenny Talor November 5, 2023 - 1:19 am

Saw this story about the airport mix-up and couldn’t stop laughing imagine showing up in Austria when you wanted a beach holiday in Australia


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