Authorities debunk JT-610 hoaxes on social media, threaten sharers with criminal charges

Screenshots:  Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the head spokesperson for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) / @Sutopo_PN / Twitter
Screenshots: Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the head spokesperson for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) / @Sutopo_PN / Twitter

In the wake of the tragic crash of Lion Air JT-610 yesterday, which is feared to have taken the lives of all 189 people on board, several hoaxes about the doomed flight have been spreading on social media purporting to show images of the plane’s body, survivors and even video of the victims moments before the crash.

On top of the false hope or pain these hoaxes can inflict on the victims; loved ones, Indonesian authorities are reminding netizens not to share this kind of false information because it could potentially land them in jail. The Ministry of Communication and Information (Kominfo) released a statement yesterday regarding the hoaxes about JT-610, saying individuals who spread such fake news can and would be prosecuted under Indonesia’s controversial Law on Electronic Transactions (UU ITE), which carries a maximum sentence of six years in prison.

The National Police issued a similar reminder, with head spokesperson Argo Yuwono telling the media today that sharing hoax information about JT-610 can lead to criminal penalties.

Mainstream Indonesian media has been doing a fairly good job at debunking these hoaxes as they proliferate but special praise must go to Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the head spokesperson for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), who has become renowned not only for his fast, comprehensive and accurate conveyance of information in times of crisis but also for definitively debunking hoaxes following disasters.

Here are five of the biggest hoaxes about JT-610 along with Pak Sutopo’s explanations about them.

This is not video from JT-610 but another Lion Air flight, JT-353 from Padang to Jakarta, that experienced severe turbulence but did not suffer any casualties. As Sutopo notes, there are no videos or photos of the passengers of JT-610 before it crashed.

 

These images are from a Sriwijaya Air flight that also experienced turbulence some time ago but which also suffered no casualties.

 

This photo, supposedly showing the recovered body of JT-610, is actually that of Lion Air JT-904, which crashed into water short of runway while on its final approach to land at Bali’s I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport on April 13, 2013. Everybody on board the plane survived the crash.

 

This photo being spread online supposedly shows a baby that survived JT-610’s crash. It is actually a baby who was rescued from the ferry KM Lestari Maju that sank in the waters off of South Sulawesi on July 3. The disaster took 36 lives while the boat’s other 167 passengers survived.

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