False Information About Noto Peninsula Earthquakes Goes Viral on Social Media Across Japan

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks to reporters at the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday afternoon.

Disinformation about the Noto Peninsula earthquakes has gone viral on social media, with some posts making false rescue requests while citing names of places that do not exist. Other posts have claimed that the temblor was man-made.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Tuesday that spreading malicious disinformation would not be tolerated.

Posts saying things like “My leg is trapped and I can’t move” and “Please help” that include fake addresses for cities in Ishikawa Prefecture have spread on X, formerly Twitter. Such posts were among other suspicious rescue requests seen on X. Cases of posts soliciting donations via a QR code have also been seen.

Some videos appeared to be edited footage of tsunami from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, and they were falsely presented as footage from the recent tsunami triggered by the temblors in the Noto Peninsula.

The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry has posted a cautionary notice on its official X account that says, “Disinformation about the Noto Peninsula Earthquake is being posted online and going viral.”

The ministry has also called for the public to check the sources of information and the authenticity of images.

Posts claiming that the cause of the latest powerful quakes might have been “an earthquake weapon” or that “the earthquakes were artificial” have been appearing one after another on social media. The Japan Meteorological Agency said: “There’s no such thing as an earthquake weapon. We’d like the public not to be misled by such false information, and instead pay attention to the announcements released by our agency.”

Referring to the quake-related disinformation, Kishida told reporters at the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday, “Spreading malicious and false information about the quakes, such as damage, must not be tolerated. I urge the public to strictly refrain from doing so.”