Faked Twitter handles
One of the disinformation techniques is circulating false information with social media accounts that impersonate celebrities and popular personalities.
HaqCheck came across a faked Twitter handle creating controversies as people can easily be misled due to the similarity of the handles.
The Twitter accounts presented in the screenshots below may seem similar because they appear to have the same Twitter handle. The difference people can easily identify between these accounts is only the verification tag and the number of followers.
Twitter handles can not be the same or duplicated and every Twitter account has to be unique, according to Twitter. However, these two Twitter accounts seem to have the same handle which is @martinplaut.
The first Twitter account is created in 2010 and the second one in 2020. The second Twitter account created in 2020 faked the Twitter handle of the real and verified one.
The second Twitter account faked the handle which is @martinlaut by replacing the small letter ‘l’ in the handle with a capital letter ‘I’. This way, the two accounts resemble to have the same handle. These two letters seem the same and can only be identified by changing them into small or capital letters. They can also be identified by size. The small letter of ‘L’ is larger than the capital letter of ‘i’. When we copy-paste the two letters from the two handles and have a thorough look magnifying them, the letter ‘l’ which is ‘L’ is visibly taller than the second letter which is ‘I’.
Thus, people should pay attention to such imitation and false information circulated by accounts faked to appear as authentic ones.
A claimed public protest which occurred in Mekelle and its vicinities
HaqCheck came across a circulating image of the front page of the Reporter newspaper with a bold headline that reads that people in Mekelle are revolting against TPLF. Facebook posts shared the image across the platform.
The image of the front page of the newspaper is learned to be manipulated from the original front page of the newspaper by giving it a fake story headline. The headline from the original front page reads, “People Were Killed due to a Conflict in Two Neighboring Zones in Amhara region”. This headline was erased and replaced by the faked headline that reads, “TPLF is Facing a Fierce Opposition in Mekelle of Sebaa Enderta”.
The front page image is taken from the July 13 publication of the biweekly Amharic Reporter newspaper. The original article on the top front page of the publication is titled, “People Were Killed due to a Conflict in Two Neighboring Zones in Amhara region” and there is no picture on the page accompanying that particular news article. The original front page of the publication can be found here. Accordingly, HaqCheck rated the claim False.
Old images claimed to show recent massacres
However, the first image in the tweet is found to be old and doesn’t show a recent massacre in Ethiopia. HaqCheck discovered one of the images published on Mar 12, 2018, on a website called BIAtimes.org under the heading “Nigeria: Fulani Herdsmen Invade Primary School in Ogun State Killing Children.”
The post was therefore rated Party-False.
Regarding twitter handles, HaqCheck recommends social media users look into the handles to check their authenticity. They have to search the handles on Twitter with the same letters and prove if they really exist on the platform. Some lowercase letters may look similar to other uppercase letters or vice versa.
We urge social media users to be skeptical and cross-check information as it may be false or manipulated. They should not be misled by similar accounts or manipulated images.
HaqCheck urges the government and other relevant bodies to guarantee full access to information to the public and to the media. They should avail information on timely issues.