Social media users help distinguish fake from real earthquake photos

Social media users help distinguish fake from real earthquake photos

The death toll from last week’s earthquake in Turkey and Syria continues to rise, with more than 25,000 dead. Photos and videos of the rescue efforts have been circulating on social media.

An Instagram user posted a photo of two people covered in blood and lying in rubble with the hashtags: “#prayforturkey #prayforsyria #earthquake #turkeyearthquake2023.”

But the people in that photo had nothing to do with the devastating Feb. 6 earthquake, according to PolitiFact. In fact, that scene is not real. The people in the image are actors in a clip from the HBO drama series “Game of Thrones”.

Some commentators recognized the scene and urged the owner of the Instagram account to delete the post.

“This is disrespectful to the victims,” ​​one commenter wrote.

In the past, other videos and photos from movies and TV shows have been posted on social media as a false representation of real events, such as the war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic, PolitiFact said.

Photo of rescue dog is stock image

The recent earthquake in Turkey and Syria has been the subject of many fake posts this past week. A photo of a dog searching the wreckage for survivors was one of them.


A photo showing a Labrador retriever in the rubble, close to a hand and arm sticking through the bricks, was posted on Twitter with the words, “Heartbreaking photo of the day.” The caption included a crying emoji, a broken heart emoji and hashtags #earthquake, #Turkey and #Syria.

But this is not a photo of a rescue dog that has been helping in Turkey and Syria in recent days, according to Reuters. This is a photo that can be purchased from a stock image service.

The photo, along with similar images, appears on the stock image sites Alamy and Dreamstime, under the subject line, “Dog searches for injured people.” A description on the Alamy website says the image was taken in October 2018 by photographer Jaroslav Noska.

This photo has also been on Noska’s Instagram account since 2018.

Balloon kill mark not added to jet

A suspected Chinese spy balloon was seen traveling through US airspace earlier this month and was shot down by a member of the military in an F-22 Raptor fighter jet on February 4 off the coast near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Almost immediately after the incident, an image began appearing on social media showing an F-22 jet with a balloon-shaped symbol on its side. In the photo, a pilot gives a thumbs up from inside the cockpit.

“The F-22 has a balloon kill mark,” read the caption on one post that included the image.

The kill mark, or victory mark, is a label affixed to the side of a military aircraft to indicate an aerial victory.

But that photo is fake, according to The Associated Press. It was taken over two years ago and the kill mark was digitally added.

The original photo shows an F-22 at California’s Edwards Air Force Base, with no markings on its side. The image was posted on the base’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts in 2020.

“Team Edwards gets the test mission done #FortheWarfighter!” read the report. “Maj. Brandon Burfeind, 411th Flight Test Squadron, F-22 Combined Test Force, gives a thumbs up after a ground crew gets his F-22 Raptor ready for flight, April 1.”

NFL referee not investigating

The Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles face off today in Super Bowl 57 at State Farm Stadium in Arizona.

A recent post being shared claims that the Chiefs may have had help getting to the big game. The post focuses on a referee who officiated the AFC Championship game between the Chiefs and the Cincinnati Bengals and is reportedly under investigation by the NFL.

“BREAKING: AFC Championship Game NFL Head Ref Ronald Torbert has commented on the NFL’s investigation into his family member placing a bet on the game this morning,” a Twitter post read.

It also quotes Torbert as saying, “I had no knowledge that my son had placed a big bet on the Chiefs until after the game.”

But none of this is true, according to The Associated Press. The claim was originally posted on a satirical website.

The report began on a website that self-identified as a “parody/satire sports anchor at KVWN sports news,” referring to a fictional news station.

The quote from Torbert was supposedly from radio station 101.4 The Juice. But that station does not exist.

An NFL spokesman just referred the AP to the fact that the story originated on a website known for satire.

• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at [email protected]

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