Raising awareness about fires in the Amazon? Share these photos, not dated stock images – USA TODAY


Adrianna Rodriguez


Published 1:18 PM EDT Aug 23, 2019

As celebrities, activists and politicians turn to social media to raise awareness about the devastating fires in the Amazon, many high-profile images of the blazes don’t show what they claim.

While the fires, and their potential dangers to the planet, may be real, the photos shared with these posts are often misleading. Some depict fires in the Amazon that happened years — or decades — ago, and sometimes don’t show the Amazon rainforest at all.

One of the most prominent examples of this: French President Emmanuel Macron’s tweeted call to put the Amazon fires on the agenda for the G-7 summit in France this weekend.

“Our house is burning. Literally.” Macron said in a tweet. “It is an international crisis.”

Attached to the tweet: A photo available for purchase from stock image website Alamy.com, which has been published previously, including in a 2012 article published on Nature.com.

USA TODAY has reached out to Alamy for comment.

Why is the Amazon rainforest on fire?: What you need to know about the ‘lungs of the planet’

The image was also shared by Fox News expert Walid Phares, Internet personality Rudy Mancuso and actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

Don’t share these misleading, dated photos:

Although that image may be only a few years old, there’s some viral images that date back to the ’80s.

YouTube star Logan Paul tweeted a photo to his followers which was likely taken before he was even born. According to this Guardian article, the image was taken in June 1989 – 30 years ago.

While some photos may be dated, other viral photos don’t even depict fires that happened in the Amazon.

Soccer legend Cristiano Ronaldo tweeted this 2013 photo of a fire at the Taim Ecological Station, in Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul state, about 2,000 miles away from where the fires in the Amazon are currently burning.

Share these photos instead:

Satellite images and images taken by photojournalists from the ground are beginning to make their way to the surface as media outlets continue their coverage of the devastation.

Below is a gallery of up-to-date photos of the Amazon wildfires that are still raging today. 

Not sure? Here’s how you can do some research

The best way to get an idea of when the image is taken is by doing a reverse Google image search.

Anyone can do this on a Chrome browser by right clicking the image and selecting “Search Google for Image.” 

A separate window should pop up with a list of websites that contain the image. If a dated article or blog contains the image from several years ago, then it’s likely not current.

You can also copy the image’s address and search for it on Google Image’s website by clicking the camera icon.

Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT.

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