Suicide game does not exist and visa-free regime for Ukrainians is not a lie

The Slovak Spectator brings you a selection of hoaxes from the past two weeks.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: Sme - Jan Krošlák)

No visas for Ukrainians does not mean any advantages for them in Europe is a hoax

The EU Council and the European Parliament approved the cancellation of visas for Ukrainians for trips shorter than 90 days, but they will teach them about civilisation gradually, with no rush.

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This is how one of the fake news pieces circulating among not only Russian media, reported on the abolition of visa for Ukrainians. The piece claims that Ukrainian citizens will have no benefits from the abolished visa regime.

The Russian media like Sputnik and RIA are spreading this hoax the most, but other “alternative” media have reported on it too, trying to present the new visa regime as a disappointment.

Read also: The Sme daily starts a hunt for hoaxes Read more 

The website that focuses on clarifying fake information about the conflict in Ukraine shows that the Russian media were mostly stressing that under the new visa regime, Ukrainians will not be able to work, study, or have a permanent address in Schengen countries, and that the new regime will not apply to the UK and Ireland.

But the articles work with fake expectations and claims that the Russian media invented. This is because the visa-free regime does not mean and has never meant free movement of people across borders or the possibility to work in the EU. The EU has never promised any of that.

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The visa-free regime means people still need their passports and they have to pass a border check. That goes for any country that Slovakia has a visa-free regime with.

Further, it is not expected that the UK or Ireland would be included in the visa-free regime and it has nothing to do with Brexit. It is because neither of the two countries is a member of the Schengen zone and thus have their own visa policies.

Ukraine will thus have a visa-free regime just like any other country that is not an EU member.

Read also: Rockefeller is a paradise of hoaxes, here are the most absurd ones Read more 

North Korea destroyed American aircraft carrier is a hoax

North Korea fired a bomb into the Pacific Ocean. American aircraft carriers were destroyed and some victims have been killed.

This short piece was published on April 13 on the website of the Petersburg-based Channel Five television. It cited “international media” but linked the piece to a Twitter tweet by The Daily Squire, which informed about the explosion of a nuclear bomb in the Pacific.

The website, Eastern European Agency for the Fight against Russian Propaganda noticed the piece before Channel Five withdrew its post, but its original can be found through Google Cache.

The alarm-spreading fake report came on the heels of increased international tension. The US really did send an aircraft carrier to the Korean peninsula, in reaction to North-Korean tests of new weapons. But no bomb exploded in the Pacific.

Channel Five never published a correction or apology for spreading this piece of fake news.

Chicken wings are bad for women’s health is a hoax

This piece refers to an alleged real story of a woman who did not see her health condition improve after gynaecological surgery and was asked whether she eats chicken wings.

The text is an old hoax but it recently appeared on some local websites whose readers spread it on social networks. It warns women against eating some parts of chicken and argues with pseudoscientific claims about chickens getting injections of hormones and antibiotics, most often into the wings. Use of growth hormones is not permitted in Slovakia, but there are chicken products from other countries in the Slovak market. Growth hormones speed up the growth of tissues, including cysts or even cancer cells. Women are more vulnerable to them, because they are more prone to hormonal chances. As a result, cysts appear in the womb and in the breasts.

One of the websites even reported that the text is a real story of one of their readers who wishes to remain anonymous.

In fact, however, the text includes three often-used topics of hoaxes: food contamination, health concerns, and fear of products imported from abroad. In addition, it is shocking information that attracts people and encourages them to spread it.

In this case, the first warning sign is that this pseudoscientific text works with many facts without referring to any sources. It includes a number of unfounded claims. Additionally, if the title says: warning for all women, it is suspicious, because all fake news and hoaxes are trying to attract attention, shock, or scare people in a very direct manner.

The content of the hoax was verified by David MIkkelson from, in 2014, and found that chicken have been bred to grow so fast that it would be of no use to inject growth hormones because they would not be able to grow any faster anyway.

In Slovakia, Daniel Molnar from the Union of Poultry Producers says that growth hormones are not allowed in Slovakia, just like in the rest of the EU. In imported meat, veterinary checks also focus on the presence of hormones in poultry, and have revealed nothing of the sort in the past five years.

Blue Whale suicide game is a hoax

The alleged game Blue Whale has been described as a computer game that assigns tasks to players, gradually from self-harm, to the last task – suicide. Media around the world have reported on this game which originated in Russia. But experts say the game does not exist at all and it is merely a marketing idea around which a number of hoaxes have accumulated.

The information about the game started spreading in February when English media took it over from the Russian daily Novaya Gazeta, which also reported on internet groups that motivate young people to kill themselves. Within six months, some 130 people were allegedly estimated to have taken their own lives in result.

Yet there are very many flaws in the text and other media reported that none of the suicides in Russia have been linked with the Blue Whale game. Most suicides were due to family conflicts and conflicts with friends or teachers, according to Meduza website.

But there are dozens of groups on the VK social network that could have provided inspiration for suicide. When Russian teenager Rina Palenkova published a picture of the train immediately before committing suicide on her VK profile, many groups started abusing it, writes the website. The game that emerged had nothing to do with Blue Whale and it was intended to help the groups gain an audience. Administrators of the groups More Kitov and Filip Lis admitted that they wanted to use the death of Rina Palenova to attract more fans and increase their advertising revenues.

Similar groups then popped up around the internet. Their administrators encouraged children to fulfill risky tasks, some are even facing investigation.

In several countries the police have warned against the game without checking into information about it, and have linked some suicides directly to it. One such case was also linked to the game in Slovakia, in media reports.

The Blue Whale therefore does not have the form of a computer game, only some isolated calls on social networks.

“The main danger thus is not the game as such but its popularisation through the media and the panic that the information about the game spreads,” wrote Kamil Kopecký from the Centre of Prevention of Risk Virtual Communication at the Palacky University in Olomouc for the website.

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