There were a couple of problems with the photo of this year’s Amazon rainforest fires tweeted by French President Emmanuel Macron: It wasn’t taken this year, and it may not be the Amazon rainforest.
His photo and at least a dozen others on social media are fake, stock images of other fires going viral after being retweeted by celebrities, including Madonna, Leonardo DiCaprio, Novak Djokovic, Cristiano Ronaldo and Jaden Smith.
Fact-checks by Mother Jones, Agence France-Presse and others found that many if not most of the oft-shared photos were from other fires, including blazes in California and India, or from Amazon fires in previous years.
The photo tweeted by Mr. Macron, which accompanied a note declaring the fires an “international crisis,” was taken by Loren McIntyre, a photographer who died in 2003. The same photo was posted by Mr. DiCaprio on Instagram.
Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rain forest - the lungs which produces 20% of our planet’s oxygen - is on fire. It is an international crisis. Members of the G7 Summit, let’s discuss this emergency first order in two days! #ActForTheAmazonpic.twitter.com/dogOJj9big— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) August 22, 2019
Stop sharing those viral photos of the Amazon burning. They’re fake. https://t.co/6pqriYWDYU— Mother Jones (@MotherJones) August 21, 2019
“There are very real fires burning in the Amazon and they do deserve more coverage, but there’s a big problem with this viral campaign: Most of the photos claiming to show the fires are fakes,” the Mother Jones article said.
Madonna, Mr. Djokovic and Mr. Smith shared a photo that did show an Amazon fire, but the image was taken in 1989, according to AFP, which labeled the photos “misleading.”
Amazon fires: how celebrities are unwittingly spreading misinformation.@AFPFactCheck discovers high-profile figures mistakenly sharing photographs of the #Amazon that are years old or images taken in other parts of the worldhttps://t.co/oJ7Q3PuJsApic.twitter.com/NDMUasMeYB— AFP news agency (@AFP) August 23, 2019
“The Fires Are Raging and The Amazonia continues to burn,” Madonna said on Instagram.
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