False news claims MP Nixon's house burnt down
A news went viral on social sites on December 5 claiming the house of Mujibur Rahman Nixon, a lawmaker, had burned to ashes after a massive fire in Faridpur. A video showing huge flames was attached to the posts as 'proof' of the incident. It was also asserted in some posts that the fire broke out in the lawmaker's home as a 'divine punishment' for his slandering Hefazat-e Islam leaders. The video was viewed by more than a million people on different online platforms.
But BD FactCheck debunked the claim explaining there was no fire breakout in MP Nixon's house on that day or days before. Two local journalists based in Faridpur confirmed the claim to be false. Furthermore, the video that was linked to the false claim is from a different incident that happened in Purobi Burmese Market, Bandarban on 21 August, 2020. Mainstream media outlets covered that incident with the same footage at that time.
False photo and exaggerated story of a hacker's 'heroism' gone viral
A smiling photo of a man waiting to be hanged has been doing rounds on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, being identified as a hacker named 'Hamza Bendelladz'. The viral posts claim that Hamza was executed for hacking 40 crores of USD from 217 banks aross the world and giving those money to the charities working for the Palestinian cause. The man is being dubbed as a hero who sacrificed his life for the sake of oppressed people.
BD FactCheck ran a reverse image search of the viral photo and checked the authenticity of the claims made in those posts. Firstly, the image shared with the social media posts is not of Hamza Bendelladz, rather of Majid Kavousifer who was hanged in public in Tehran, Iran's capital, in 2007, for murdering a prominent judge.
Secondly, the primary claim in the social media posts turned out to be false. Hamza Bendelladz, an Algerian hacker, is a co-creator of a banking trojan horse called SpyEye and he stole around 100 million USD from more than 200 US banks and financial institutions. He was indicted in absentia by US authorities in 2011 and was arrested after two years in Thailand only to be extradited to the US afterwards. The court in the US state of Georgia found him guilty and sentenced him to 15 years imprisonment in 2016, which he is still serving, instead of being executed.
Misleading information about two female statues doing rounds on Facebook
Amid the ongoing controversy over statues in the country, a photo of a nude female statue has been circulating in the social media, claiming the statue is in Bangladesh. The claim has turned out to be false as BD FactCheck found it is actually situated in Barcelona, Spain. A photographer named Lusian Milasan captured the photo, which was later published in a commercial website called DepositPhotos in 2012.
Another photo of a female statue has been shared concurrently with a claim that it has been set up before Women Teachers' Training College, Mymenshingh, and a group of netizens denounced it saying the practice goes against the sentiment of Islam. Some even criticised the authorities' decision of constructing such a 'vulgar' structure in front of a Women's College.
BD FactCheck found the statue is of Venus, Greek deity, which is situated in front of the Shashi Lodge, Mymensingh. Surjakant, a Jamindar of Muktagacha, built the Lodge in 1897, which was later used as Women Teachers' Training College from 1952. The Department of Archaeology nowadays takes care of the structure. Thus the statue has not been placed there recently or by the authorities, rather it was constructed by the owner of the Lodge more than a century ago.
The vandals of Bangabandhu's sculpture are ISKON members - a trendy fake
Last week another fake news story was circulating on social media centering the sculpture saga. A screenshot with the logo and name of Prothom Alo depicting a news headline titled "The Vandals of Bangabandhu's sculpture are ISKON Members" has been widely circulated on Facebook. The screenshot attempted to display it as a real report of Prothom Alo shared on it's own verified Facebook page.
But on closer look, the screenshot turned out to be doctored intentionally. For instance, the spot where the headline of the alleged capture was placed is inconsistent with the placement of regular news headlines on the official page maintained by the Prothom Alo. Furthermore, the caption is in much bigger font than usual. Facebook does not allow different font sizes for captions, which is a clear indicator that the screengrab is a false, edited one. Any news related to ISKON members smashing the unfinished sculpture of Bangabandhu in Kushtia was false and Prothom Alo or any other news outlets did not publish any news like that.