Amazon rainforest fire: How to spot the FAKE photos as Twitter reacts to devastation

As news of the devastation across the Amazon rainforest broke, many took to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to share their horror at the extent of fires in the region. The hashtag #AmazonRainforest was trending on Wednesday and into Thursday on Twitter, with many sharing images of the burning forest. However, not all of these photos actually reflect the current state of the forest.

In Brazil alone, there are 80 percent more fires in 2019 than there were last year, according to satellite data from the National Institute for Space Research (INPE).

More than half of the fires in Brazil are in its Amazon region, and staggering satellite images show just how many fires there are.

These images, both from NASA and NOAA show the extent of the smoke spreading across the country.

Social media helped increase coverage of the wildfires, but misinformation is conflating the fires with older ones.

Read More: Amazon fires: NASA fears new wildfires will accelerate climate warming

Users are being urged to stop sharing the fake photos – which are actually from several different fires, some dating back 30 years.

One such image was retweeted more than 15,000 times and was captioned: “For three weeks, the Amazon RAINFOREST has been burning.

“Fire frequency in Brazil has increased +82% due to droughts, increased heat, and land use change (logging, industry, & agriculture).”

The accompanying image was actually uploaded in February 2019 on a climate website called ALERT – and is credited as an Alamy Stock Photo.

Read More: Amazon rainforest fire: Brazil’s environment minister HECKLED

A second post comprised of four photos was uploaded to Twitter – but none relate to the August 2019 fires in the Amazon.

Liked on Twitter more than 4,500 times, the top left photo was taken during a forest fire in California and was uploaded to the US Department of Agriculture’s Flickr account in 2013.

The second is from an Amazon forest fire, but from 1989 according to The Guardian, with the third another image of that same fire from 1989.

The fourth image is from InfoAmazonia and is a heat map showing the extent of forest fires in the Amazon, but spans from 2000-2014.

Read More: Amazon rainforest fire: Are NGOs to blame as Brazil President claims?

In another viral post, which model Kendell Jenner retweeted to her more than 28 million followers – both images do not show the Amazon rainforest.

The right-hand side image shows a fire in Serbia, whilst the left was taken by photographer Daniel Beltrá and was used in 2014 in articles on fires in Sweden.

Another image posted on Wednesday shows a fire at Brazil’s Taim Ecological Station in 2013. It was captured for Getty by Lauro Alves.

And finally, but not by any means the last of the images to be incorrectly labelled – Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio shared an image of fires burning against a wall of green forest.

This exact image was published in February 2018 in an article titled: “Carbon emissions from Amazon wildfires could ‘counteract’ deforestation decline”.

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