HIV infection threat appears again in "fake news"

This is a selection of hoaxes shared by Slovak internet users over the past week.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: SME)

Roma earning €561 for patrolling is a hoax

Roma who work patrols in their settlements and villages will be paid €561 after taxes, in addition to an education stipend of €140. The European Union is telling us where to use the money we are submitting for its budget.

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This is a text from the “alternative news” website Hlavné Správy, written by Mário Vidák, who openly admits to his membership in the extremist ĽSNS party.

The article is based on the Interior Ministry's report of renewed Roma patrols. The author does not write that the €561 is actually the overall price of the work, as stated by the ministry’s report.

This makes the gross salary of the patrol member is €435, according to Vladimir Horvath, the spokesperson of the Government Proxy for Roma Communities. That amount equals the minimum salary as defined by law. The monthly salary of an individual with no dependents who works the patrols will equal €374, Horvath told the Sme daily. He also noted that not all of the patrol members will be working full time.

The text only comments on the “straw man” argument that he created by twisting the ministry report, and the article contains racial bias and unfounded statements. Vidák write, “We know from experience that these patrols do not work at all,” although there is no proof in the report to support the claim.

The government proxy, in contrast, says that feedback from citizens, mayors and the patrollers themselves has indicated that the experiences have been positive.

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“The patrols do not work as assistants to the police,” he said, as quoted by Sme. “They also help in the daily operation of the community. The patrols often escort children to schools or help in the organisation of events,” Horvath said.

In addition to incorrect statements, the report also contains at least two logical erors. One is the straw man argument, which first makes up or exaggerates an argument - the straw man - and then attacks this alleged problem.

Another fallacy at work in the article is the use of “We know from experience” as a justification. This is supposed to create the impression that the information has serious foundation, when it only generalises from chosen anecdotes and fabricated authorities. Vidák does not support or attribute his claims with any data or statistics.

Despite this, his article earned over 3,300 likes on Facebook.

Terrorist attack in Sevilla is a hoax

Muslims attacked Christians celebrating Easter in the Spanish city of Sevilla, injuring tens of people and destroying Christian symbols, the Czech website wrote shortly after Easter this year. This is the multicultural Europe of today, and this is the future of a Europe ruled by Muslims, the article continued.

The website is part of the Parlamentni Listy hoax site. At least 2,700 people shared the website's article on Facebook, though it also spread through Facebook groups like “We do not want immigrants in Czechia”.

An incident in Sevilla did occur, but the facts from the report are either omitted or exaggerated. The incident was a reaction to a group using metal noise-makers and shouting Muslim and Basque separatist chants, the website wrote. The actions created a panic because people assumed that it was part of an attack.

Hundreds of people were injured the resulting confusion, with 13 people requiring hospital attention. The Spanish police ruled out links to any kind of terrorist organizations, according to website. The police detained eight people following the incident, none of whom were of Arab origin and three of whom were known to the police.

This article is a clear hoax because it misstates facts about an event and is written in an un-journalistic style, linking an incident in Sevilla with the provocative statement of “this is the multicultural Europe of today”.

HIV-infected needles at petrol stations is a hoax

HIV-infected needles hidden in pumps at Bratislava’s petrol stations are a recent threat that have raised concern among some Slovak Facebook users. Even former Supreme Court chair Stefan Harabin has shared the warning with an illustrative photo of a petrol pump.

This is a known hoax that has made several resurgences since its first appearance in 2000, according to website. It has become popular again: Harabin’s post alone has been shared nearly 400 times.

The hoax capitalises on people’s fear of AIDS, and the warning sometimes appears in different forms, like a warning against needles left on cinema seats.

The picture of a gas pump that Slovaks have been sharing comes from the Facebook profile of Jacqueline Medina, the website reported.

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