Misleading images of Aussie fires make their way to social media

Fake maps and photoshopped images of the destruction caused by the Australian fires have been shared extensively by social media activists.

    2020/01/09

NSFW    SYDNEY — As Australia's fires burn at an unprecedented rate, social media activists have been quick to share maps and images of the wildfires — though not all of them are accurate.

One example is of a map that was widely shared on social media as it seemed to show the live extent of the spread of fires across Australia. In reality, it was a visualization created by artist Anthony Hearsey which showed where fires were detected across Australia from December 2019 to January 2020.

In response to the criticism, Hearsey admitted in an Instagram post that the scale was a bit exaggerated and said that some of the fires depicted may not be burning anymore but said it was "generally" true as he had obtained data about the fires from NASA's website.

Another misleading map claimed to show all the wildfires burning across the country and used data from an Australian government website called MyFireWatch. It was later discovered that the map was inaccurate as the data gathered included any heat source including gas flares and refinery furnaces.

Social media users have also been spreading old photographs or fake images to show the extent of destruction caused by the fires, Australia's SBS News reports.

One photograph shows a family hiding under a pier with the atmosphere turned orange in color due to the flames. The image was taken in 2013, not during the recent wildfire outbreak.

Another photo shows a girl holding a koala and wearing what seems to be an oxygen mask while a forest in the backdrop is caught in flames. A Twitter user pointed out that the image could easily have been photoshopped to show the girl holding the koala with the fires burning in the background.
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