Did Trump call ANC a ‘mob of old people’? Do 250 Alberton shop staff have Covid-19? More hoaxes busted

Instagram accounts was that US President Donald Trump took a cheap shot at South Africa’s governing party. 

“Can we all agree that the ANC is just a Mafia/mob of old people who only enrich specific families, friends, relatives, and their own families,” Trump is claimed to have said, much to the delight of the party’s detractors. 

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The post shows what appears to be a screenshot of a tweet from Trump’s verified Twitter account, published on 24 May. The image is captioned: “What is Tonald saying?? (sic)”

“[The ANC] are just thugs who wanna be celebrities,” the tweet ends.

The post has been viewed more than 69 000 times on Facebook, according to Africa Check.

Trump has commented on South Africa’s government before.

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In 2018, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced plans to begin the process of land expropriation without compensation.

Trump then tweeted that he had asked his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, to “closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large-scale killing of farmers”.

Has Trump now criticised the ANC directly on Twitter? Africa Check’s Naledi Mashishi had a look.

The tweet does not appear anywhere on Trump’s Twitter account.

Factba.se is an AI-powered database that stores every communication that comes from Trump’s social media accounts, interviews, and the White House. The tweet does not appear in its database of Trump’s current or deleted tweets.

It can therefore be safely said that Trump did not tweet that the ANC was a “mob of old people”.

‘Do not rent to African’ sign from Malaysia, not China 

“As I stop supporting China Malls,” reads the text on a screenshot of a Facebook post, reposted on 15 May.

According to Africa Check, it shows a photo of a sign on a wall in different languages. The English text reads: “DO NOT RENT TO AFRICAN/NEGRO” and “0% AFRICAN/NEGRO TENANT”. A red circle around the words “AFRICAN NEGRO” has a diagonal line through it – the common symbol for “not allowed”.

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The sign also has Chinese characters, and a third language.

The screenshot was posted in South Africa with the comment: “Maybe it’s time we start a campaign to stop buying from Chinese and supporting their business.” It’s been viewed more than 260 000 times.

But the sign is not from China, or associated with Chinese people in South Africa.

Using a reverse image search, Africa Check traced the photo to Malaysia, a country in Southeast Asia on the southern border of Thailand. Malaysia is about 3 500 kilometres from China, in East Asia.


Google Translate detects this as Malay. Malaysia’s two official languages are Malay and English. Chinese dialects such as Mandarin and Hokkien are also spoken there, as is Tamil, a language from India.

The photo of the sign was taken in Kuala Lumpur, the country’s capital, by a friend of Malaysian artist Red Hong Yi. She posted it on her Facebook page on 15 April.

“While I have been posting artwork about anti-Asian racism related to [the] coronavirus, I want to make it clear that I recognise that racism exists everywhere, in every skin colour, every country, every culture,” she wrote.

“In Malaysia, a friend sent me the below attached photo that he took outside his apartment in KL today … I am appalled.”

The post was covered by Malaysian news outlets. In one report, the Sun Daily said: “Racial discrimination in renting practices has been a rampant issue in Malaysia, with The Star reporting last year that 21% of Malaysians have been a victim of racial discrimination when looking for a place to rent.”

No, posting @[4:0] won’t show if Facebook account hacked

A recent Facebook post claims that commenting “@[4:0]” on the social media site will show you if your Facebook account has been hacked. 

It gives these instructions: “Simply type @ [4:0] in the comment box and don’t give space, if it shows ‘Mark Zuckerberg’ it means your account is not hacked, if not then you need to change your settings before it’s too late.”

Africa Check tested it and, with some operating systems, “@[4:0]” in a Facebook post is changed to “Mark Zuckerberg”, the name of Facebook’s founder. It doesn’t work on Apple devices.

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Does this have anything to do with hacking, or is it a harmless quirk?

According to Africa Check’s Keegan Leech, this is a false claim that’s been around for years. Fact-checking website Snopes debunked it in 2015, as did PolitiFact in June 2019. Other websites have also investigated it.

They all found that the effect had nothing to do with hacking.

Each Facebook page has a unique identity number. When a user posts “@[4:0]”, Facebook interprets this as a reference to a page with the Facebook ID number 4. As Business Insider reported in 2011, low numbers often belong to the first users who signed up for the site. So it stands to reason that Facebook’s founder would have one of the first numbers.

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— Africa Check (@AfricaCheck) May 24, 2020

The first ID number tied to an existing account is 4, which is for Zuckerberg’s page. The URL https://facebook.com/4 takes you to his page, and substituting 4 for another number will direct you to other pages.

For example, https://facebook.com/484978191533810 links to Africa Check’s Facebook page, and “@[484978191533810:0]” will change to “Africa Check”, with a link to their Facebook page, when posted.

It is easy to find Facebook IDs using free tools like this one, and the quirk has been used in other viral posts. But it has nothing to do with account security.

You’ve been hacked!

What should you do if you’re concerned about your Facebook account security? You can access Facebook’s security and login tools in your account settings, which show you which devices – phone or computer – have recently logged into your account.

You can also sign devices out of Facebook here and change your security settings to make your account more secure.

Facebook recommends several safety features including creating strong passwords, signing up to be alerted when an unrecognised device logs into your account, and using the two-factor authentication security feature.

It is also a good idea to use a randomly generated – and long – password and save it using a password manager, rather than relying on a combination you can easily remember. Most web browsers, including Chrome and Firefox, have a password manager built in. More secure free services include Bitwarden and LastPass.

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You can also use a service such as Have I Been Pwned. It is not associated with Facebook and alerts you if accounts associated with your email address have had passwords or other information leaked online.

Posting “@[4:0]” won’t tell you anything about the security of your Facebook account. Whether or not it changes to “Mark Zuckerberg” depends only on the operating system of the device you are using at the time.

No, 250 shop staff in Alberton not Covid-19-positive and ‘told to keep working’

A graphic widely shared on Facebook since 15 May 2020 claims that 250 staff at shops in Alberton, south of Johannesburg, tested positive for Covid-19.

“If you know of a family member that went to any of the malls at Alberton this week tell them that 250 employees around those malls tested positive on Monday and they told them to continue working,” it reads.

“Hotspots are Alberton City Game and Pick n Pay, Alberton mall Shoprite and Springbok pharmacy, Lemon Tree mall Woolworths, Makro and Checkers. (sic)”

Africa Check’s Taryn Willows investigated the claim.

Medical advice & health tips are popping up everywhere – from WhatsApp to Facebook & Twitter.

But many of these claims aren’t supported by science & some can prove fatal.

Don’t let bad information put your health & life at risk. #WorldHealthDayhttps://t.co/pcqqtL1ERd

— Africa Check (@AfricaCheck) April 7, 2020

Alberton falls in one of six districts of the City of Ekurhuleni municipality. On 26 May the district, which includes nine other settlements, had 123 confirmed cases of Covid-19.

A few “hotspots” in the town could not have had 250 cases 10 days earlier.

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On 15 May, the Alberton City Shopping Centre posted the graphic on its Facebook page with “Fake News” stamped on it.

“There have been NO confirmed cases of Covid-19 among the retail employees at Alberton City Shopping Centre to date,” the post reads. “We continue to do our best to ensure a safe shopping environment, and we are taking all of the necessary precautions.”

The Alberton Record community newspaper investigated the graphic and found it to be false. Alberton ward councillor Tiaan Kotze told the newspaper that, as of 15 May, there were “only 93 positive cases in our sub district of Ekurhuleni South 1.

The image of the 250 positive cases in the malls of Alberton is fake news.

Check out Africa Check’s coronavirus fact-checks in one place. 

– Compiled by Riaan Grobler

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