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Hoax Alert

Fake News: French Army Not Getting Ready to Stop Demonstration of Yellow Vests

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Fri, 16 Nov 2018 19:38:04 Z)

Is the French army preparing to break up roadblocks tomorrow during a planned protest against high fuel prices (by protesters that have taken up yellow safety vests as their sign)? No, that's not true: the protest are real but the "news" about the army intervention came from a new site associated with a Belgian satire website. It is not true.

The story originated from an article published by a site named Conbini on November 14, 2018 titled "L'armée s'organise contre la manifestation des gilets jaunes" (archived here) which opened:

Selon le Canard Enchaîné et plusieurs médias, une colonne de chars Leclerc, du 501e régiment de char de combat, a été aperçu à proximité de l'autoroute A1, en prévision de la manifestation du 17 novembre organisée par le collectif des gilets jaunes.

Le ministre de la défense a affirmé ce matin encore sa volonté de rompre tout blocage de route, et confirme donc les dires du premier ministre Edouard Philippe.

Translated:

According to le Canard Enchaîné (ed.: a satirical newspaper) and several media outlets, a column of Leclerc tanks of the 501st Combat Tank Regiment was sighted near the A1 motorway in anticipation of the demonstration on November 17 organized by the collective of yellow vests.

The defense minister confirmed again this morning his willingness to break up any roadblockage, and thus confirms the words of Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.

Screenshot of http://conbini.fr/2018/11/14/larmee-sorganise-contre-la-manifestation-des-gilets-jaunes/

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:

L'armée s'organise contre la manifestation des gilets jaunes

Selon le Canard Enchaîné et plusieurs médias, une colonne de chars Leclerc, du 501e régiment de char de combat, a été aperçu à proximité de l'autoroute A1, en prévision de la manifestation du 17 novembre organisée par le collectif des gilets jaunes. Le ministre de la défense a affirmé ce matin encore sa volonté de ...

But the image of the tank was not taken anywhere near the A1, it was made in Poland during a military excercise and the photo was modified to include a yellow safety vest:

Des chars Leclerc pour chatouiller Moscou

Des chars, des chars, et encore des chars. L'Abrams pour les États-Unis, le T-72 pour la Pologne, et le Leclerc pour la France.

The website publishing the news, conbini.fr, has only been online for about a week according to WHOIS registration data:

domain: conbini.fr
status: ACTIVE
hold: NO
holder-c: VO1466-FRNIC
admin-c: VO1468-FRNIC
tech-c: OVH5-FRNIC
zone-c: NFC1-FRNIC
nsl-id: NSL214426-FRNIC
registrar: OVH
Expiry Date: 08/11/2019
created: 08/11/2018
last-update: 08/11/2018

It sports following disclaimer at the bottom of the page:

Konbini: All Poop Everywhere

That seems to be a parody of entertainment website https://www.konbini.com/, which has "All Pop Everything" as its slogan. The parody website is hosted on the same IP address as nordpresse.be (and several other related sites), namely 176.31.110.25.

Le Journal Du Nord (nordpresse.be) is a satirical website that was set up to mock the (real) sudpresse.be (since renamed sudinfo.be), a Belgian media group. They were involved in a lawsuit with each other in 2017 which was eventually won by NordPresse.

They have sort of a disclaimer in their header that reads:

Toute l'information vérifiée par nos analystes simiens

Translated: "all information verified by our monkey analysts".

The exact same article also appeared on that site, but it didn't do so well on social media, getting only a fraction of the engagement:

L'armée s'organise pour prévenir la manifestation des gilets jaunes

Une colonne de chars Leclerc, du 501e régiment de char de combat, a été aperçu à proximité de l'autoroute A1, en prévision de la manifestation du 17 novembre organisée par le collectif des gilets jaunes. Le ministre de la défense a affirmé ce matin encore sa volonté de rompre tout blocage de route, et confirme ...

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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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