Fake news follows migrant caravan's journey north

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Media captionTrump and the facts about the migrant caravan

A row raging over the migrant caravan travelling towards the United States is being fuelled by misinformation and false statements online.

Thousands of migrants have got as far as Mexico, after the caravan which set out from Honduras has travelled north and grown in size.

The caravan's progress towards the US southern border has become the subject of intense speculation and discussion on social media.

A number of false or misleading assertions are among those to be shared widely.

Claim: 'Unknown Middle Easterners' among caravan

On Monday, President Trump asserted that "unknown Middle Easterners" were "mixed in" with the caravan heading north. However, on Tuesday he acknowledged there was no proof of those claims.

"There's no proof of anything. But there could very well be," the president said.

His initial assertion came shortly after Fox and Friends host Pete Hegseth reported claims that Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales had told a local newspaper they had caught more than 100 Islamic State group fighters in the country.

Reporters on the ground, including BBC correspondent Aleem Maqbool, have not seen "unknown Middle Easterners" among the migrants heading north.

Claim: Migrant caravan funded by Democrats and George Soros

Last week, Republican congressman Matt Gaetz tweeted a video he said showed Hondurans being paid to join the migrant caravan.

Billionaire philanthropist George Soros, who is something of a pantomime villain in the eyes of many on the right, might be behind the payments, Gaetz suggested.

President Trump was among those to share the footage, which has been viewed millions of times, while the claims that migrants have been in some way funded by Soros or the Democrats have continued to be repeated on social media.

On Monday, vice president of government affairs at Campbell Soup, Kelly Johnston, claimed Mr Soros' philanthropic organisation Open Society "planned and is executing this".

There does not appear to be any evidence of this and none appears to have been offered. A company spokesperson said: "The opinions Mr Johnston expresses on Twitter are his individual views and do not represent the position of Campbell Soup Company". Mr Johnston later deleted his Twitter account.

Open Society denies any involvement and the video shared by Gaetz and the president was actually filmed in Guatemala, a fact which Gaetz later acknowledged he had got wrong.

Guatemalan journalist Luis Assardo posted details on Twitter about his efforts to investigate the claims.

Assardo said he had spoken to locals who told him money, food and clothing were being handed out by local retailers to those in the caravan, up to a maximum of about $25 (£19) each.

Earlier this month President Trump, without evidence, accused Mr Soros of paying women protesting against the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

On Monday, New York police said they had safely destroyed a suspected letter bomb sent to Mr Soros's home.

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Claim: Mexican police assaulted by migrants

Image copyright EPA

It's an eye-grabbing image: a bloodied Mexican federal police agent is helped by a colleague bearing a riot shield.

Prominent pro-Trump Facebook pages are among those to have shared it with their followers, alongside the claim it shows an officer "brutalised by members of the caravan as they attempt to force their way into Mexico".

Virginia Thomas, who is married to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, also posted the images.

"The media won't share this, will they?" she wrote.

But the image does not come from the migrant caravan story. Photojournalist Gustavo Aguado took the picture in October 2012 during clashes between police and students at a Mexican high school.