Hoax Alert

Fake News: Trump and Duterte Did NOT Sign a Bilateral Visa Free Travel Agreement

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Tue, 21 Nov 2017 11:22:46 Z)

Fake news website texas-express.com published a story (archived here) titled "VISA FREE TRAVEL: Trump and Duterte sign a bilateral agreement" which opened:

MANILA -- U.S. President Donald Trump and the Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte have sign a bilateral visa agreement that abolishes visa requirements for both countries.
...
Details that resulted in this agreement were not disclose to the media as it comes as part of series of issues that were disclosed behind closed doors.

(our emphasis)

visafree.jpg

Despite the fact that "details were not disclose to the media", texas-express.com claims to have them anyway:

The agreement, which comes into force in January 2018 would do away with visa requirements when citizens of both countries are visiting the other for a stay of up to 180 days. This would be enjoyed by travelers visiting for tourism, business or visiting family and friends. People settling in the United States would still require visas.

We were unable to locate news about any such agreement anywhere from official sources. If you are a citizen of the Philippines, visa requirements for various types of travel or immigration to the United States of America can be found here on the site of the U.S. Embassy.

This isn't the first fake news story about Trump supposedly granting visa-free travel to specific countries or regions. Over the past year we've documented fake visa-free travel stories for Asia, the entire Caribbean, "Ghana, Ethiopia and Kenya", "Uganda, Ghana and Malawi", Nigeria and South-Africa (although that last one didn't involve Trump). The modus operandi is always the same, with the news story being launched on a site that is designed to look like a normal regional news website with stolen news articles on the main page and fake news stories hidden deeper in the site, only accessible via a direct link.

The texas-express.com site shares a Facebook App ID with florida-times.com and city-herald.com, they are part of a network that perpetrated a death hoax involving Charles Manson just before he actually died. Previously city-herald.com used to be known as parliaments.eu, a site linked to numerous other fake news websites. The new name was registered in May 2017). Another fake site in the network which shares an MGID advertising account with florida-times.com is houstonchronicle-tv.com which was involved in publishing several other fake news stories earlier this year (and which has nothing to do with the legitimate news website houstonchronicle.com to be clear). Several of the other sites in the network participated in the earlier visa-free travel hoaxes.

So whenever you read something online about visa-free travel, always check official sources like the U.S. Embassy website in your country first. Don't get fooled by fake news.

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About the author:

Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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