Hoaxmap: Debunking false rumours about refugee ‘crimes’

Teo Kermeliotis at AlJazeera: “Back in the summer of 2015, at the height of the ongoing refugee crisis, Karolin Schwarz started noticing a disturbing pattern.

Just as refugee arrivals in her town of Leipzig, eastern Germany, began to rise, so did the frequency of rumours over supposed crimes committed by those men, women and children who had fled war and hardship to reach Europe.

As months passed by, the allegations became even more common, increasingly popping up in social media feeds and often reproduced by mainstream news outlets.

The online map featured some 240 incidents in its first week [Source: Hoaxmap/Al Jazeera]


“The stories seemed to be [orchestrated] by far-right parties and organisations and I wanted to try to find some way to help organise this – maybe find patterns and give people a tool to look up these stories [when] they were being confronted with new ones.”

And so she did.

Along with 35-year-old developer Lutz Helm, Schwarz launched last week Hoaxmap, an online platform that allows people to separate fact from fiction by debunking false rumours about supposed crimes committed by refugees.

Using an interactive system of popping dots, the map documents and categorises where those “crimes” allegedly took place. It then counters that false information with official statements from the police and local authorities, as well as news reports in which the allegations have been disproved. The debunked cases marked on the map range from thefts and assaults to manslaughter – but one of the most common topics is rape, Schwarz said….(More)”