Old TikTok video of toddler and baby falsely linked to Turkey-Syria earthquake

  • This article is more than one year old.
  • Published on February 16, 2023 at 09:19
  • 2 min read
  • By Mary KULUNDU, AFP Kenya
A TikTok video of an upset toddler trying to soothe a baby is circulating on Facebook claiming the pair’s mother died in the Turkey-Syria earthquake that has killed more than 35,000 people, among them children and parents. The claim, however, is false: the video predates the earthquake and was first published by a TikTok account that shares lighthearted videos of children.

On February 7, 2023, a Nigerian Facebook page shared a video of a tearful toddler trying to soothe a baby.

“These Children lost their Mum in the Earthquake that happened in Turkey and Syria. Now the Older one is try to breastfeed the younger one. Oh God have Mercy (sic),” reads the caption.

A screenshot of the false Facebook post, taken on February 14, 2023

The video has been viewed more than one million times, with many comments expressing heartache for the children.

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake, followed by a major aftershock, struck southeastern Turkey and neighbouring Syria on February 6, 2023.

The World Health Organization described the event as the “worst natural disaster” in its Europe region for a century.

Following the earthquake, social media platforms were deluged with misinformation in the form of videos and photos claiming to show the devastating aftermath. AFP Fact Check has debunked several claims (see here, here, and here).

But, while many children have seen their parents perish in the earthquake, this clip is old and unrelated to the disaster.

Laughter, not sorrow

AFP Fact Check searched the TikTok account “anelya.495”, the name visible in the top lefthand corner of the video.

The search led to the original clip of the children, uploaded on November 26, 2022 -- months before the earthquake.

The Russian caption below the video translates to “Children’s laughter”.

A screenshot of the original TikTok video, uploaded in November 2022

Other posts on the TikTok account feature the same toddler. The clips show funny scenes from a family’s daily life.

AFP Fact Check contacted the owner of the TikTok account, who has yet to respond.

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