‘Fake News’ Prompts Facebook Bangkok Bomb Scare

Image: Facebook

BANGKOK — No, there was not a massive explosion Bangkok on Tuesday night.

Facebook's 'media reports' confirming the 'large explosion in Bangkok.'
Facebook’s ‘media reports’ confirming the ‘large explosion in Bangkok.’

At about 9pm, Facebook activated its safety check-in system for a reported explosion in the Thai capital. Facebook said the crisis was “confirmed” by media reports, and users began marking themselves “safe.”

The only problem is the media report it referenced was a BBC article posted to the website of Bangkok Informer. That article appeared to have been posted more than a year ago before it was republished today and was eventually picked up by an MSN.news bot at about 8pm.

Update: Facebook Says Panic-Inducing Bangkok Explosion Actually Happened

The original BBC report was about the Aug. 17, 2015, bombing of the Erawan Shrine, which killed 20 people, mostly tourists.

As of 10:15pm, the Facebook alert had been deactivated.

Image of story at Bangkok Informer
Image of story at Bangkok Informer

Facebook launched its Safety Check Feature in October 2014 for its users to notify their loved ones they were safe in event of disaster. The first major crisis that saw it used was the Nepal earthquake of April 2015.

In March of this year, the social media giant apologized after it erroneously sent safety check notifications worldwide after a suicide bomber attacked Lahore, Pakistan.

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Todd Ruiz can be reached at todd@khaosodenglish.com. He began working as a reporter in Afghanistan in 2001 and was a newspaper staff writer in Los Angeles. He began following news and politics in Thailand in 2000 and has lived in Bangkok since 2009.