The refugee crisis in Europe has once again seen the widespread distribution of misinformation by social media. The photo above purports to show refugees in Germany attacking the police and brandishing an ISIS flag. Perfect evidence for right-wing objectors to Europe’s humanitarian response.
Except it doesn’t. The photo is actually three years old and is a fight between a far-right German political party and Muslim groups. It’s just the most recent high-profile example that highlights how easy it is for old photographs or videos to be manipulated and distributed to create a false impression. The lie has been exposed by The Independent, The Mirror, Vice, TIME magazine and others.
A couple of weeks before this fake photograph went viral I gave a presentation at the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) in London on why verifying facts on social media and social networks matters for PR professionals and the tools and techniques they can use to verify them. It was part of the CIPR’s Social Shorts season so had to be a 12 minute whistle stop tour. This is the short deck I created for the talk: