Footage purportedly taken inside the cabin of EgyptAir flight MS804 before it crashed is circulating online.
The Airbus A320 was travelling from Paris to Cairo last month when it went down, killing all 66 passengers and crew on board.
The clip, which features people praying, raising their arms and crying out in fear as the aircraft bumps and jolts, has been shared on social media and has been viewed around 60,000 times.
One Facebook entry captioned ‘Egypt air line plane before crash’ has been shared close to 8,000 times alone, despite the clip having no apparent veracity whatsoever.
Naturally, the footage is hoax – that is to say it has nothing to do with the EgyptAir crash - and was certainly not filmed on board the doomed jet.
As well as the obvious red flags such as how could such footage have survived the crash and made its way onto the internet, and why was it filmed during daylight hours (MS804 crashed at night) France 24’s The Observers have published a piece explaining how to quickly debunk suspected hoax videos.
It recommends checking the comments section (where in this case Bilal Dadar remarks: ‘This is from the recent Etihad flight to Jakarta stop spreading falsehoods. A Muslim does not lie.’)
Based on this clue, it suggests a YouTube search using keywords – in this case ‘Etihad’ and ‘Jakarta’. This yielded an identical video shot by a passenger on a turbulent flight from Abu Dhabi to Jakarta, on board you guessed it, Etihad Airways.
Further tips if you’re not yet convinced, include using the YouTube search created by Amnesty International, which also allows you to perform a “reverse image search”.
Hoax videos, images and misinformation are becoming ever more common in times of tragedy.
It had been shared by several news organisations before it was debunked – and traced back to December 2015 – with US military authorities stating it actually depicted debris from a Russian rocket re-entering the atmosphere over California.
Further hoaxers took it upon themselves to post false photographs of relatives who had been on the flight using the hashtags #EgyptAir and #MS804. Many responded with mockery when contacted by the media.
Little is known as to why hoaxers are so keen to seize upon big news events like this, other than the fact that turning something viral in an echo chamber like the Internet can earn one a dubious notoriety. But conversely, it does go to show that something that quickly goes viral can be debunked just as fast.
When asked if the Internet has had a "fact-checking effect" on conspiracy theories, Joe Uscinski, an associate professor of political science at the University of Miami, told the Washington Post: “Scholars who look into this say that the Internet has provided a mechanism to really discourage the rumours and the conspiracy theories because it can quickly put those things to the test and it can see if there’s any truth to them. .
“If there isn’t, it travels just as fast, that these things aren’t true.
“The Internet acts both as the incubator for conspiracy theories, but it also acts as the antidote.”