Photo credit from Syria: AFP

The BBC has admitted that pictures of alleged Israeli airstrikes on Gaza and their aftermath may be inaccurate.

A little-known division of the corporation called BBC Trending says that many of images being shared on social media under the #GazaUnderAttack hashtag are in fact several years old, and in some cases from different conflicts.

In one case, a Twitter user posted multiple images with the caption: “This is not a matter of religion. This is a matter of humanity #GazaUnderAttack” – except one of the images was from Syria last month, and another from Baghdad in 2007.

One 16-year-old who shared another inaccurate image told BBC Trending: “I didn’t actually know that the picture was recycled,” before trying to justify it by saying: “I guess I just used it as an illustration – people don’t need to take it as a literal account. If you think of bombs going off that’s pretty much what it looks like.”

Abdirahim Saeed of BBC Arabic said: “This misuse of pictures on social media is not particularly unique to this particular hashtag. We’ve seen this before in Syria, in Iraq, and you’ve got to keep an eye on who you’re following, [and ask yourself] where did this picture come from?”

The BBC itself, however, is not immune from sharing inaccurate images. Journalist Tom Gross, who monitors Middle Eastern media, added: “What the BBC item doesn’t point out is that some of the most senior BBC correspondents in the Middle East, such as Jon Donnison have been responsible for sending out these inaccurate photos on their BBC twitter feeds!”

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