Czech-language hate group tries to pass off picture of Nobel Prize winner as its Facebook administrator
Can we believe anything at all on the Internet anymore? Has it just become a tool for fraudsters, haters and propagandists?
It is becoming more and more complicate to recognize what is true online and what is either manipulation or even complete fabrication. On the Facebook social networking site, Czech-language groups that are complete fictions are being created in addition to real ones that are openly racist.
At the start of January, news server Romea.cz reported on a Facebook group calling itself "Roma against Islam", which used the names of the Dživipen association and the Terne čhave music group without permission. We expressed our suspicions at the time that the group is a fiction.
Our suspicions have been confirmed now that the group has published the photograph of its alleged administrator and secretary, a certain "Ján Balko". It took just a few minutes of online searching for news server Romea.cz to determine that the photograph is actually of Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, the Nobel Prize winner for chemistry.
Many photographs of Ramakrishnan can be found online. The fraudsters have done their best to make it hard to identify the man in the photograph - for example, they reproduced it as a mirror image so it would evade detection by Google photo identification tools, but their fraud has been discovered nonetheless.
Once their lie was discovered, the page's administrators posted a message giving the impression that the whole page is just a prank. According to their previous posts, however, it is clear that the purpose of the page was to attract Romani people to demonstrations convened by the the anti-Islamic group "We Don't Want Islam in the Czech Republic."
The same people are also behind another false Czech-language Facebook page called "Educated Roma" (Vzdělaní Romové), which insults Romani people with would-be jokes. Facebook is ignoring requests to shut down the pages of these non-existent groups.
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