BBC Reveals Social Media Image Manipulation in #GazaUnderAttack

“…Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour…” (Exodus 20:12)

Not typically known for its friendly reporting on Israel, BBC’s social media department has released a report on the recently trending hashtag, #GazaUnderAttack, finding many images associated with the hashtag are false.

The hashtag, which has been used some 375,000 times in the past week, has been linked to graphic images of burning cities and fleeing Arabs.  While some of the images are accurate, BBC reported, many are either from earlier conflicts or other countries entirely.

Viral image shared from Operation Protective Edge (2014) is in fact from an IAF strike in 2009 in Beit Lahia during Operation Cast Lead.
Viral image shared from Operation Protective Edge (2014) is in fact from an IAF strike in 2009 in Beit Lahia during Operation Cast Lead.

“Graphic images are being shared on social media to show how people have been affected by the renewed tensions between Israel and the Palestinians,” the BBC wrote.

“Over the past week the hashtag #GazaUnderAttack has been used hundreds of thousands of times, often to distribute pictures claiming to show the effects the airstrikes.”

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“Some of the images are of the current situation in Gaza,” the BBC said, “but a #BBCtrending analysis has found that some date as far back as 2009 and others are from conflicts in Syria and Iraq.”

BBC contacted some of the tweeters who had retweeted the images.  When confronted with the truth, one woman seemed genuinely contrite.

Photo on the right was taken in Aleppo, Syria and on the left in Iraq, both in 2007.
Photo on the right was taken in Aleppo, Syria and on the left in Iraq, both in 2007.

“I have to be honest, I found out recently that one of the images that I retweeted was from Syria and I deleted that image,” she told BBC. “It’s disappointing that images get shared that quickly. I guess that’s the difference between the internet and credible newspaper publications where pictures are from a source and they’re credited.”

Not everyone was moved by the revelation, however.  One 16-year-old was surprised, but defended her tweet, calling it “an illustration”.  “If you think of bombs going off, that’s pretty much what it looks like,” she said.

How accurate are images on social media of Gaza under attack?