The Fake Images of the Conflict in Myanmar
by Hannah on September 5, 2017 - 10:54pm
As of September 5th, 2017, the most recent fighting in Myanmar took place in the state of Rakhine, leaving approximately 400 dead and forced 40,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee their homes for Bangladesh, reports Rebecca Ratcliffe in The Guardian. Caused by a vast military response to rebel attacks on Myanmar security forces, the conflict has seen both sides claiming that their opponents have committed atrocities: Refugees arriving in Bangladesh maintain that their villages had been attacked and ultimately burned down by government troops, while the government and residents report that insurgents had burned down their own homes and murdered Hindus and Buddhists.
Amidst these allegations, social media is abuzz with fake news on the subject. Notably, images are being shared that either misrepresent the situation or are of an entirely different conflict, from either different times or places, if not both. Unfortunately, when an incorrect image is associated with real information, it draws the truth into question. In fact, there are already accusations on Twitter that the Rohingya people are not actually suffering as a result of human rights violations. This means that human rights groups not only have to unearth the facts, but then struggle to maintain their credibility, which draws resources away from where they are so desperately needed.
Verifying sources is an important task for the reader, not just for their own sake, but for the sake of the people trying to transmit the truth as quickly and efficiently as possible to their readership. I personally believe the source of my article to be reliable. The Guardian has a reputation to uphold and has had few major controversies. The few which occurred were in relation to falsely attributed Julian Assange comments and a factually incorrect article about WhatsApp’s purported “backdoor”. In addition, according to the Media Bias/ Fact Check website, this news outlet rates high on factual reporting, though it does report some left-center bias. The author of the article, Rebecca Ratcliffe, is noted as a freelance writer and newsdesk assistant at the Observer on The Guardian’s website, as well as boasting approximately 527 articles published on the site, of which the more recent ones focus mainly on international disasters. Her LinkedIn page also states that she has a Bachelor’s in English from Oxford and a Master’s in Interactive Journalism from City University (GB), which lends her credibility.
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“backdoor” story.” TechCrunch. 20 January 2017, https://techcrunch.com/2017/01/20/security-researchers-call-for-guardian-to-retract-false-whatsapp-backdoor-story/ .
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Ratcliffe, Rebecca. “Fake news images add fuel to fire in Myanmar, after more than 400
deaths.” The Guardian. 5 September 2017, 8:42 a.m. BST, https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/sep/05/fake-news-images-add-fuel-to-fire-in-myanmar-after-more-than-400-deaths .
---. “Rebecca Ratcliffe.” LinkedIn. https://www.linkedin.com/in/rebecca-ratcliffe-07108642 .