As the situation escalated around the Gaza Strip over the past week, pro-Palestinian activists took to Twitter to publicize photos and “insider info” from the ground in Gaza. They seized on the hashtag #GazaUnderAttack, and kept retweeting images of burning buildings and bloodied victims, with more than 375,000 tweets in the past 7 days.
But an investigation by BBCTrending, which monitors social media, found that many of the images were from previous conflicts such as Operation Cast Lead in 2009, and others were from different countries altogether, such as Syria and Iraq.
“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,” said one woman interviewed by the 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.”
A 16-year-old who was interviewed by the BBC said she used the photos on Twitter as an “illustration,” and didn’t expect to get retweeted 1,800 times. “If you think of bombs going off, that’s pretty much what it looks like,” she said.
The BBC recommended that everyone on social media check twice to ensure the images they were sharing were accurate.