If you follow any number of Twitter accounts that regularly tweet historical photos, you may unwittingly be being duped.
If you love photos from history, there are ample pickings on Twitter. Accounts like History Lovers Club (207K followers) or History in Pictures (1.75M followers) are only two Twitter accounts from dozens that have amassed huge amounts of followers through their regular tweets of historical, even rare, photos.
But it appears that when viewing their feeds, one may have to apply the classic cyber adage; just because it’s on the Internet, it doesn’t mean it’s true. And indeed, just because a Twitter account has hundreds of thousands, even millions of followers, it doesn’t mean it can be trusted.
That’s something anyone following the HoaxEye Twitter feed will soon realise. The HoaxEye Twitter account regularly exposes fake photos posted onto Twitter, the majority of which stem from these large Twitter accounts, accounts that will frequently accumulate thousands of retweets per photo. Whether the photos are posted with misleading captions or have been digitally altered, there’s never a shortage of debunking to do.
That’s not to say all the photos posted by such accounts are fake. It appears that those who operate these popular Twitter accounts are merely farming photos from the Internet with little apparent interest in their legitimacy. Meaning both genuine photos, digitally altered photos and photos with fake captions regularly wind up in the mix and published.
For example, from the last days or so…
This photo wasn’t from World War II, rather from 1963 in Italy.
No, that’s a popular digitally altered photo to give the appearance of snow. The original photo clearly shows the Pyramids were not white.
And again, no. The photo does show Captain Edward John Smith (on the right) who went on to captain the Titanic, but he’s with the officers of the RMS Olympic.
While many accounts including the HoaxEye account are in the business of exposing the posts made by these Twitter accounts, keeping on top of offending tweets is almost impossible. The History Lovers Club Twitter account alone tweets several photos every hour. Tweeting questionable photos from the Internet is a much faster process than actually investigating their legitimacy, it seems.
That problem is made worse by the fact that it’s not just limited to Twitter accounts posting historical photos. Other Twitter accounts claiming to post photos of nature, or “amazing” photos, are also notorious for posting fake captions or digitally altered photos.
There may be financial motive for this modus operandi. High traffic social media accounts are big business. They can be sold to marketing companies or used to generate traffic to certain websites. In which case, it’s unlikely those behind the accounts are particularly concerned with how they generate their followers, as long as they do.
It’s worth remembering that if you follow one of these Twitter accounts, maybe not everything you see on them is going to be the real deal.