As you will have realised by now, I am a just little obsessed with investigating the authenticity of images shared on Social Media. Whenever a great controversy arises, I will be there with my magnifying glass, peering into exif data, converting images to text files, running them through reverse image searches and consulting Street View for helpful clues as to whether the image is genuine or not. I admit that it is verging on a compulsive disorder, but so too is the habit of my fellow travellers in forwarding absolutely everything that confirms their worldview without pause.
Category: Viral Media (Page 1 of 2)
I’m no fan of gaudy palaces filled with gold leaf and French furniture, nor of the politicians who reside in them, but why do people have lie and fabricate for added effect?
The caption of this Facebook post mockingly reads, “In service of the nation” — in juxtaposition to the President and his family enjoying an apparently lavish lifestyle of high fashion and luxurious surroundings.
The image below, shared on social media by friends, demands that we recognise and share what is happening in Myanmar, for the sake of Allah. The text is attributed to Cübbeli Ahmet Hoca, who is a popular imam in Turkey. After mentioning the tyranny faced by the people of Arakan (Rakhine State), the text roughly reads:
“We are collecting Yasin-i sherif. I can not do anything, I stand there with prayer, send DUA, read Dua Halkasina and share in your prayer circles.”
I believe the words “1 Kez paylaş” superimposed on the image means “Share once”. So far, so good.
Is it ethical to share on social media a photo of an alleged attacker without first verifying the facts?
And is this habit Shariah-compliant with regards to the manners of bearing witness, taking evidence and judging equitably?
It seems that in these troubled times, the politics of identity have completely replaced the moral framework which underpins our faith.
What if, after the photo has been shared 30,000 times, it turns out that the alleged attacker was innocent?
Does anyone have regrets and repent, or do we just write it off as a case of collateral damage? Mere fallout of the new vigilante religion we have made?
It’s heartening that there are people in modern times who dedicate their time to checking facts. Tracing claims to their source, mapping the path of the information as it spread worldwide. Investigating the contents of the claims. They are the modern inheritors of the sciences of isnad and matn.
But it is disheartening that they are rarely Muslim, and that in complete reverse, it is often Muslims who spread the unverified junk without a moment’s pause, purely because such claims confirm to their worldview or what they wish to believe.
This Quranic maxim is the last thing we want to hear:
O you who have believed, if an ungodly man comes to you with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful.
It is disturbing how willingly we will share photographs from one situation and pass them off as new images of another.
We have witnessed this repeatedly this week as France stepped up its bombing campaign against ISIS.
It is not beyond the realm of possibility that there have been civilian casualties as a result of this action.
However, every one of the phtotographs provided as evidence has on investigation turned out to be several months old. Some actually depict the victims of the regime’s bombardments.
Using photographs of one conflict to depict another is not just unethical, but also alters the historical narrative. Who nowadays recalls the crimes of the regime?
The daily reading of the Facebook news feed is an instructive illustration of how myths easily and permanently solidify into undeniable realities: once an untruth has been repeatedly recounted it becomes real and true in the popular imagination. Preposterous embellishments only make it seem truer still: even if we disagree on the details, agreement on the core guarantees that the original claim was always broadly true. In past times legends had decades to incubate; today our myths are instantaneous. Depressing, but fascinating all the same.
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