Earthquake Warning Hoax
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Hoax Scares Recipients with False Claims of Massive Earthquake

by Brett M. Christensen

Outline:
Message circulating via WhatsApp, SMS, and social media warns that a massive earthquake is going to occur tomorrow morning at around 2 am in parts of Africa.  It also warns that dangerous cosmic rays will pass close to Earth tonight and may cause terrible damage.


Analysis:
The warning is a hoax. Parts of Africa did experience earthquakes in early April 2017. More quakes and tremors may occur in coming days. However, there are no credible predictions indicating that a massive earthquake is about to hit the region.

And, there are no official government or scientific warnings about a large earthquake. On April 4, South Africa’s Council for Geoscience posted a news update on its website that notes:

The Council for Geoscience would like to assure the South African public that there is no eminent threat to the country, as a result of well-established facts about the relative stability of the African cratonic plates. We’d also like to take the country into confidence by assuring the citizenry that there is no cause for panic. A capable team of Seismologists has been dispatched to Botswana to investigate the earthquake further.

South African news outlet NorthGlen News is also warning people about the hoax, noting:

WHILE South Africans were left shaken by yesterdays tremors which were felt around the country, people are now sharing a message warning of possible seismic activity tonight. Don’t be alarmed by the message though, because everything in it, is a hoax.

And, the claims about dangerous cosmic rays are equally spurious. That supposed warning is derived from another nonsensical hoax message that has circulated for several years.


A real problem with hoax messages like this one is that they do not specify any actual date.  They mention time frames such as “tomorrow morning at around 2 am” or “tonight at 00:30 to 03:30” but they do not say on which date that the events are supposed to occur.

This omission of dates means that these absurd hoaxes can circulate for months or years causing fear and alarm as they travel.

If you receive this message, do not pass it on and please let the sender know that the information is not valid.

Example:
Please be advised that the earthquake that happened in some parts of Africa is not yet over because its in rotation form. The researchers under geography are encouraging people to stay awake because a massive earthquake is going to occur tomorrow morning at around 2am. It has been proved that the earthquake is caused by the lava of the volcano that is under pressure beneath the earth’s surface ready to be exposed to the earth’s surface. Countries expected to be affected are Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, part of South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi, Ghana and Madagascar.Tonight at 00:30 to 03:30 make sure to turn off the phone, cellular, tablet, etc … and put away from your body. Singapore television announced the news. Please tell your family and friends. Tonight, 12:30 to 3:30 for our planet will be very high radiation. Cosmic rays will pass close to Earth. So please turn off your cell phone. Do not leave your device close to your body, it can cause you terrible damage. Check Google and NASA BBC News. Send this message to all the people who matter to you.



Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,
Hoax-Slayer