Fires are natural catastrophes that could be fatal for human lives, the fauna and the vegetation. They stir deep emotions and the public wants to be correctly and timely informed. Even though fires are tragic events, the creators of fake news did not miss the opportunity to take advantage of such situations.
This summer two huge fires in the world occurred: Siberia and the forest in the Amazon. In Macedonia there were fires around Veles and Katlanovo.
Simultaneously, the media and the social networks were „burning “with disinformation, with outdated photographs and fake news.
1. Creating panic with fake photos that the lake Mladost near Veles is on fire
The news portal „Plus24“, in the period when there was a fire near Veles, on their Facebook page published a photograph of a fire, and on it wrote: “currently happening at lake Maldost”. All the people who saw the photo were misinformed because it had nothing to do with lake Mladost, neither with the fire in Veles, neither with Macedonia. It was a photograph of a fire in California taken in August last year.
2. The restaurants at Lake Veles are burning
During the large fire in the Veles region, the portal “Leader” published that the restaurants on Lake Veles caught fire. However, the real situation was that a large part of the pine forest, an empty pig farm and a country house, but not the lake restaurants, were on fire.
3. The fire in Veles was put out with a five-hour delay
The MP from the opposition party VMRO-DPMNE, Vlatko Gorcev, at a press conference, accused that the intervention to put out the fire was five hours late and used this claim to demand for the resignation of ministers and managers. Gorcev did not say how he got the information, nor offered any evidence to substantiate the credibility of the claim. This was denied by the president of the council of municipality of Veles, Nenad Kocic, who on Facebook wrote that the accusations are false and malicious.
4. A solider saves a jaguar from the fires of the Amazon
One of the most touching photographs from the fire in the Amazon is the photography which shows a Brazilian solider in the water with a jaguar in his arms. The explanation under the picture was that the solider is saving the jaguar from the fire, and following this there was a massive share on the social media and collected many likes, shares and positive comments. However, this picture is more than three years old. It was taken in May 2016 as part of the project for saving jaguars in the Amazon. This young jaguar was adopted by the army after hunters killed its mother.
5. The Amazon is burning, the forest that creates 20 percent of the oxygen on the planet
During the fires in the Amazon, the media wrote that the lungs of the planet Earth are burning, since the forest in Brazil makes 20 percent of oxygen on the planet. But scientists say this is incorrect. In fact, the area absorbs the same amount of oxygen it produces. Among the many that shared this incorrect information was the French president Emmanuel Macron who on the 22 of august on Twitter wrote:
“Our house is on fire. Literally. The Amazon forests are the lungs that create 20% of the oxygen on earth. This is an international crisis”.
Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rain forest – the lungs which produces 20% of our planet’s oxygen – is on fire. It is an international crisis. Members of the G7 Summit, let’s discuss this emergency first order in two days! #ActForTheAmazon pic.twitter.com/dogOJj9big
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) August 22, 2019
6. Fake photos from the fire in Amazon
Besides the incorrect information of Macron’s tweet, the photo was not relevant as well, being 16 years old. A large number of distinguished people, without checking, share photos not connected to the event. The same photo was shared by other famous people including the actor Leonardo DiCaprio. The famous footballer Cristiano Ronaldo shared a photo that is not from the Amazon at all, and Madonna released a photo taken in 1989.
7. Fake photos from the fire in Siberia
The fires in Siberia, also, caused a lot of reactions on social media. In that pile of reactions and shocking information, a photo of a burned rabbit claimed to be the result of the fire in Siberia, was widely circulated. But, with a simple search on Google one could see that this photo was not taken in Siberia, but in California last November.