How is fake news about the migration 'invasion' in Europe fabricated? This question formed the starting point for research by Turkish non-profit organisation Teyit into the use of false information to target refugees.
Turkish fact-checking organisation Teyit has carried out research into fake news concerning migrants, analysing 162 cases of false information in 22 countries, in order to understand the false propaganda about the migrant 'invasion'.
Images that spread hate
Teyit.org has analysed the claims and false information about refugees/migrants in different countries, particularly France, and has tried to determine the similarities and the differences by studying false news about refugees in different countries such as the US, England, Germany, Sweden and Italy.
"All over the world similar videos, photographs and images merged with xenophobia and anti-immigrant opinions can be used to help the hate speech accelerate and grow," the organisation says in the report published on its website.
The research starts from a video allegedly showing a Syrian refugee who lives in Turkey attacking a doctor. Fact-checking showed that the video was actually recorded in a hospital in Russia where it was published as news saying that a drunken man had attacked a member of the medical staff. Teyit says the video was used in France to target refugees during election time and also shared on the internet in a very accusatory way towards refugees and immigrants in Spain.
In another case, a photo showing people attempting to flee from Albania to Italy in 1991 was used to show refugees allegedly trying to cross the Mediterranean from Libya.
The research says "false information targeting refugees often involves different accusations that use a language that is eliminative. These accusations are often divided into eight basic categories: criminal actions, state aid, economy, invasion, terrorism and religion". There is often false information about refugees and migrants who allegedly harass women in countries, alleged terrorists disguised as refugees and governments that provide more resources for refugees than they do for their own citizens. In regard to religion, there are often fake news stories about refugees and migrants being disrespectful towards Christian festivities such as Christmas, or attacking churches.
In any event, the main theme is the presumed link between refugees and criminal cases. "It is possible to say that these false news have been put forward in order to create the sense that people, who have left their countries and migrated to another country (…) create a security threat and cannot fit into the society and disturb individuals peace and harmony," Teyit says. "Such allegations about refugees can also lead to physical violence," it concludes.