250-million-years old microchip from Russia is fake news

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

New toll that would increase fees for highways ten-fold is a hoax

When the European Commission introduces the highway toll for passenger cars, drivers in Slovakia will pay ten times more for travelling on highways, the napalete.sk website claims. The text alludes to some countries who have updated their highway stickers to electronic tolls - but fails to specify which countries they are.

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The EC does propose that electronic tolls be introduced for passenger cars under 3.5 tonnes by 2027 at the latest. But that deadline could still change, as member states have not given it their final approval.

There has been no talks about the price of the fees for highways. For now it is not clear if the toll rates will be defined on the European level or if they will remain under the jurisdictions of national entities. It is still an early draft that needs to be discussed by MEPs and the member states. It is likely that if the decision about the rates was left to the member states, Slovakia would push for lower rates, as Austria and Germany have done.

The napalete.sk website also claims that this step will burden the non-charged roads in and around towns and villages. But Slovakia will also have the possibility to impose tolls on roads of lower categories, which is already the case for freight trucks.

Read also: Supermarkets have to fight hoaxes too Read more 

Fake frontpage of National Geographic promotes fear

Does anyone really consider this evolution? The Facebook site ANTISlniečkar condemns the alleged frontpage of the National Geographic magazine, which shows a naked couple made up of a black man and a white woman. The caption suggests that the magazine is writing about a “new evolution” of humans in Europe, brought by immigrants to the continent.

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The fake cover has been spread on websites and on Twitter, where it was mostly shared on racist-leaning accounts. The cover is marked May 2017, and a glance at the official website of National Geographic quickly reveals that the frontpage is fake.

But this can also be seen from some details of the picture. The fabricated frontpage has the date printed at the top of the page, together with the word Pr0ncave, which is an account on the blogging service tumblr.

The actual cover of National Geographic has the date printed at the bottom of the page.

Facebook users on the ANTISlniečkar page also noted that the frontpage is fake, but it still had 12 comments, 29 likes, and 14 shares. Every share means tens, possibly hundreds of views.

The administrators of the account said that “what matters more than the name of the magazine is the question of whether Europe really awaits the evolution as depicted”. This is a reaction quite typical for alternative news websites that contribute to anti-immigrant sentiments.

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

250-million-year-old microchip from Russia is a hoax

The Czech-language fake news server World Around Us (Svet kolem nas) published an article about a “revelation that will rewrite history”.

The site, which often publishes stories about foreign policy and refugees, writes that Russian fisherman Viktor Morozov found an artefact that he donated to scientists. The site writes that the scientists tested it and found it to be some sort of microchip, about 225 to 250 million years old, that could be a technological remains of a civilisation that inhabited the Earth millions years ago. They also say that it might indicate the presence of aliens.

The Sme daily asked Matúš Hyžný from the Department of Geology and Paleontology of the Faculty of Natural Sciences of the Comenius University in Bratislava. He identified it as the lengthwise cut of a crinoid, an organism similar to sea urchins and starfish.

“Crinoids have a rich fossil record, and the finding in question shows typical preservation of these organisms,” he told the daily.

In 2014, researchers from the Institute for Nanotechnologies and New Materials at the South Russian State Technical University issued a statement with a similar conclusion. They estimated the age of the crinoid at some 410-450 million years.

Even though the text refers to research findings, it does not include references to any studies that would prove their claim.

Still, the hoax, based solely on the visual resemblance of the found artefact to a microchip, garnered the attention of thousands of people on social networks.

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