Fact Check: Chinese Authorities Did NOT Seize Over 7,200 Human Penises On Cargo Ship From Nigeria

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: Chinese Authorities Did NOT Seize Over 7,200 Human Penises On Cargo Ship From Nigeria Satire Story

Did Chinese authorities seize more than 7,200 human penises on a cargo ship from Nigeria? No, that's not true: This story originated on March 19, 2021 on the satire website World News Daily Report. The website makes it clear it is not to be taken seriously with the motto "Where facts don't matter."

The photo used to illustrate the made-up news story is a real photo from a true news story. On March 9, 2020 customs agents in Nanning, China, busted a smuggling gang, seizing almost 1,808 pounds of scales from the endangered pangolin. Known as the "world's most trafficked mammal," its scales are used in traditional Chinese medicine.

The article was republished without any disclaimers on Instagram in a post (archived here) on April 11, 2021. The captioning of the post was a promotion mostly unrelated to the screenshot claiming there was of a seizure of human penises:

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The text included inside the screenshot read:

Chinese authorities seize over 7,200 human penises on a cargo ship from Nigeria
On Mar 19, 2021
Chinese customs officers have made the world's biggest seizure of human organs in history this morning, a total of 7221 penises of African origin hidden in a refrigerated freight container.

This is how the post appeared on April 14, 2021:


(Source: Instagram Screenshot Wed Apr 14 20:33:06 2021 UTC)

The article has been copied and republished on other websites that do not have satire disclaimers. The article also appeared on naijatell.com and many other websites as the DuckDuckGo search results reveal.

A reverse image search for this photo was unsuccessful on TinEye and Yandex. Google's search results were overwhelmed by the duplicate fake news stories, but Bing was able to match the image to four different Chinese language articles from 2020.


(Source: Bing Screenshot Wed Apr 14 21:03:49 2021 UTC)

An official news release (English here) from the Chinese government website of the General Administration of Customs includes the photo by Gan Liya and described the March 9, 2020, seizure of pangolin scales:

In the early morning of March 9, the General Administration of Customs uniformly commanded Nanning and Hefei Customs Anti-smuggling Bureau to jointly launch the "Guard 2020" special operation against the smuggling of wild animals and their products. Nanning, Chongzuo, Guangxi, Bozhou, Anhui, and other places successfully destroyed a criminal gang of smuggling pangolin scales, arrested 9 suspects in one fell swoop, and seized 820 kilograms of smuggled pangolin scales at the scene.

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  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


Read more about or contact Sarah Thompson

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