False claim: Receiving call from ‘777888999’ will cause your phone to explode

A video has been doing rounds on social media the last few years showing a phone exploding after receiving a call from a the number ‘777888999’. The video also consists of what seems like footage from a hospital, where a boy with a bloody jaw is lying on a stretcher, and a clipped version of ABP Live video. The video ends with a man saying that he received a call from 777888999 but he did not respond as he knew what could happen. The claim being shared with it says that the number has virus in it and causes phones to blast when the call is received.

 

A user uploaded this video on the Alt News app to check the veracity of the claim.

Fact-check

The video is a part of a hoax that has travelled through time only to become more elaborate with the crux of the message remaining unchanged. However, careful analysis of the claims raised via the clip is enough to debunk the false rumour.

1. The number ‘777888999’ is a 9-digit number. Mobile phone numbers in India consist of 10 digits. The call also couldn’t have been from an international number because it does not have a country code.

2. If one performs a keyword search of the video on YouTube, one finds that it has been circulated using varied claims like the man’s mouth exploded due to an e-cigarette.

3. Alt News broke down the video into multiple frames using InVID and reverse-searched an image of the clip showing a man with a bloody jaw. The clip was debunked by Brazilian fact-checking website E-Farsas in 2016. E-Farsas claimed that the man was actually trying to commit suicide by placing an explosive in his mouth. The website claimed that the incident took place in 2014. Alt News could not independently confirm the same as the sources used by E-Farsas are no longer accessible.

4. We found that the ABP Live clip used in the video was part of a December 2016 Viral Sach broadcast where the news channel was not reporting on the “virus” but debunking the hoax. The length of the complete broadcast is 5 minutes and ABP Live starts the fact-check after 2:40 minutes into the program. This part has been clipped out and only the portion where ABP Live talks about the message warning people to not receive calls from ‘777888999’ has been included in the video. This was an attempt to mislead social media users into believing that the “death number” is real since it has been reported in the media.

A clip from the video is juxtaposed with the original ABP Live video below to show the similarities.

Thus, an over 4-minute video was manufactured by morphing bits and pieces from different videos to make a false claim that cell phones were exploding upon receiving a call from the number ‘777888999’

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