A horrifying photo has surfaced on Facebook, one that claims the dead, charred bodies in the photo are Christians burnt alive by Muslims in Nigera. A common caption reads reads: Christians burnt alive by Sunni Muslims in NIGERIA...(Posted by Jillian Becker in Africa, Arab States, Christianity, Christians burnt alive by Sunni Muslims, Islam, Muslims, jihad).....PLEASE SHARE IT OR JUST UPLOAD YOUR OWN...BUT SOMEHOW SPREAD IT IF YOU'RE EVEN 1% CHRISTIAN — It is still not over yet! — As expected, enraged comments ensue. Problem is.. the photo itself is real but the story attached to it is fake.
Loonwatch.com already took this photo to task with an excellent dissertation posted several months ago, yet the story continues to be passed around. That site will show you that the charred bodes were in fact a result of a tanker explosion in the Congo. Because they have already posted an authoritative rebuttal to this photo, such a discussion isn’t necessary here. I urge you to read their blog if you have any doubts about the photo.
This is just another example of social media’s tendency to repost first and ask questions later. Such was the case recently when a false story took hold about a “trend” of nails being placed in cheese in dog parks. The “trend” ended up being a single occurrence in South America. Or when a photo of dead coyotes hanging from a fence was posted on Facebook and attributed to “Spanish bastards” with no corroborating links. When people see these heart-tugging photos in their Facebook newsfeed, their knee-jerk reaction is the be upset and re-post. Doing so when the story ends up being fake makes the re-poster an inadvertent proponent of a hoax.
(Another popular photo on Facebook, that of a child in a hospital bed, is yet another heart-wrenching photo that most people assume is a child in need of medical aid, when in fact it was a photo of him post-surgery.)
It’s unfortunate that someone would take a horrible accident and create a new divisive, hateful story from it in order to promote their point of view.
If you see something on Facebook or Twitter that enrages you, investigate the story first rather than angrily commenting and re-posting. Doing so on a fake story will only make you feel foolish when one of your friends leaves the inevitable “That’s a fake story” comment. In fact, sharing or commenting on such a fake photo makes you an pawn of the originator, in this case a hate mongering blog playing on the fears and differences of religious beliefs.
In that regard, the originator of the fake story had to result to pathetic and desperate means to get readers fired up, rather than posting solid, engaging content.
If someone re-posts a story on Facebook, think again before re-posting it. If they post a story that enrages you, think twice.