On December 16th BBC Trending produced a brief report about a photograph of a toddler’s blood-soaked shoe which was being promoted on social media as having been taken at the scene of the terror attack in Peshawar on the same day. As was pointed out, the photograph was in fact taken in 2008 in the southern Israeli town of Ashkelon after a missile attack from the Gaza Strip.
The next day, BBC Trending uncovered more information about the photograph and updated its report. The article appears on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the amended title “Israeli photographer ‘horrified’ at use of bloody shoe photo“.
The article states:
“BBC Trending tracked down the photographer, Edi Israel, who says he took the photo while working as a freelancer in Ashkelon in May 2008. In that incident, a rocket was fired by Palestinian militants from Gaza into Israel, injuring dozens.
“I’m horrified to know that the picture has moved to Pakistan, and that it’s being used like that,” Edi Israel says. “This is a known phenomenon that people take a photo from one place and use it like it was elsewhere.”
The “recycling” of shocking photos is indeed common on social media in the wake of attacks – for instance we reported on the sharing of old images under the hashtag #GazaUnderAttack earlier this year.”
However, the image in question was not only misleadingly promoted on social media on December 16th as having been photographed in Pakistan. A Dutch journalist inaccurately claimed that it was actually taken in the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014 and his disinformation was in turn retweeted by the BBC’s correspondent in Libya Rana Jawad.
Once again it is clear that the BBC’s social media guidelines are not effective in preventing breaches of accuracy and impartiality by its correspondents on the ground.
Rana Jawad has put out a correction to the inaccurate retweet.