Giant snake on road in Tanzania? Crudely photoshopped image already debunked in China

An image that seems to show a giant snake slithering down a road between crowds of people was shared on a Tanzanian Facebook page on 8 August 2019.

It’s captioned, in Kiswahili: “Umati mkubwa wa watu wakishangaa maajabu ya Joka kubwa likipita na kukatisha mitaa, Njia mpaka linaelekea polini bila kuleta madhala kwa wakazi wa maeneo jirani na alipopita nyoka huyo.” 

This loosely translates as: “A huge crowd is perplexed by the sight of this enormous snake passing by the neighbourhood headed for the forest. It did not harm residents.”

The post has been shared more than 1,300 times – and the image flagged as possibly fake by Facebook’s fact-checking system.

Dragon caused earthquake in China?

The image has clearly been manipulated.

A reverse image search reveals it was posted on Weibo, a China-based social media platform, two months earlier – in June 2019. Here it was used to claim that a “120-metre giant dragon with a diameter of 1.5 metres jumped out of the water” and was said to be “related to” an earthquake that hit China’s Sichuan province on 17 June.

Zhang Moumou, 50, posted the image and claim on Weibo. China’s South China Morning Post and Shanghaiist news sites reported that local police launched an investigation into the source of the image and arrested Zhang for causing “social panic”.

The police later posted that after interrogation, Zhang claimed the photo was only meant to be a joke and apologised to netizens for his “improper online behavior”.

Photos of Zhang and his post can be seen on the police’s Weibo page. – Dancan Bwire


Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check has partnered with Facebook to combat fake news and false information on the social platform. This fact-check is part of the initiative.

As part of its third-party fact-checking programme, Facebook allows its partners to see public articles, pictures or videos that have been flagged as potentially inaccurate.

Content rated as “false” by fact-checkers will be downgraded in news feeds. This means fewer people will see it.

You can help us identify fake news and false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.

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