False News

Jump to navigation Jump to search

False News

When Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 went missing on Saturday, 8 March 2014 the airline was unable to provide information about its' location, the cause of the incident, or the reason for no communication and no distress call.

When the Malaysian, Vietnamese and Singapore governments initiated a search of the South China Sea in the vicinity of MH370's last known location, but failed to find any evidence of a crashed aircraft, the scale of an information void increased.

When the Malaysian Air traffic controllers explained that the aircraft disappeared from secondary radar, meaning that the 'blip' on their screens disappeared, and the media interpreted that as the entire aircraft disappeared, the expanding information void started to be filled by speculation and 'conspiracy theories'.

For example, since there were employees from the Freescale company onboard it was suggested that they used technology to hide the plane from radar. It was also suggested that the pilot flew low to avoid tracking by radar.

As it became known that the aircraft continued to fly for about six hours after contact was lost, and could have flown on either a northern or southern route termed corridors, there was speculation that it landed in Afghanistan, or that it landed at the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

After residents of an atoll in the Maldives reported seeing a low-flying jet aircraft with Malaysian colours various reporters, authors, blog writers and others propagated the idea that these people saw MH370, so the aircraft either crashed or was ditched somewhere near the Maldives, or was flown to the military base at Diego Garcia where it was either shot down, or landed and was hidden.

As this Section is being developed, however, articles focus on just two items of false news. The earliest piece of misleading information was that the aircraft landed at Nanming. This was a social media post that was incorrect. Secondly, a harmful article alleging that a phone call was made to the Pilot of MH370 just prior to take-off which was a complete fabrication.


At 10:30 am on the day that MH370 went missing, Saturday, 8 March 2014 Malaysia Airlines stated in the 3rd Media Statement:-

There has been speculation that the aircraft has landed at Nanming. We are working to verify the authenticity of the report and others.


The story spread quickly on Chinese social media - that the aircraft had made a safe emergency landing in Nanning, China[1].

There was some confusion as two cities were cited, Nanning in China, and Nanming (as in Malaysia Airlines' 3rd Media Statement), which is in Vietnam.

News of any landing would have given relatives and friends of passengers some hope, but the news was false.

Two-Minute Phone Call

This story alleged that shortly before take-off the Pilot-in-Command, Captain Shah, received a call on his mobile phone. The caller was allegedly a woman who purchased a pay-as-you-go SIM card from a shop in Kuala Lumpur and used a false identity. The Royal Malaysia Police dismissed the article as mere speculation. The article is analysed in detail here and while it is obviously fabricated and false it is was republished many times and adds to the propaganda about the Captain.