On April 10, Twitter user @cuckpatroller tweeted an image with a shocking description. The image itself showed middle school children bowing down with their hands over their heads against walls. Frank, the Twitter user, accused an unknown middle school of forcing children to perform the traditional Muslim prayer five times per day. From there, he called on the government to revoke funding for said school. Twitter users responded in disgust at the tweet, and a small controversy erupted almost immediately.
Unsurprisingly, many Twitter users gave Frank the benefit of the doubt and believed his unsourced tweet. The image is real with a completely fabricated caption, though. Different groups of children in the image are facing different directions. In the traditional prayer, everyone must face Mecca, the Holy Land. A handful of Twitter users pointed this discrepancy out right away. A short time later the actual source of the images was revealed, and nothing nefarious is going on at that elementary school.
The images come from a television news segment on tornado drills in schools. In Miamisburg, an elementary school’s drills and protocols were filmed. Someone uploaded the segment to YouTube, making Frank’s tweet easy to debunk. All of the children at the school learn how to respond to a tornado by getting low and protecting themselves. However, these children aren’t learning the Muslim prayer, and that’s easily discernable in the newscast. None of this news should shock anyone, though.
With a Twitter handle like @cuckpatroller, Frank knew exactly what would happen when he posted his tweet. Far more people jumped straight into believing the tweet and demanding change than those that took a minute to think about the tweet. A lack of knowledge or basic education on Muslim prayer meant most people don’t know about facing Mecca. Then again, a reverse image search through Google would have brought up the tornado drill newscast. Of course, it’s easier to react with disgust and malice than to research first.
After enough Twitter users reported Frank, his account was suspended indefinitely. He tried to delete the tweet after its validity was debunked. We all know that deleting something on the Web means nothing. Sadly, it’s all but guaranteed that people still see the image and think that indoctrination is happening in American schools right now. Not everyone will see the debunking of the tweeted image and caption. “Frank” might call the whole thing a harmless prank, but purposeful misinformation is quite malicious.
If social media users would take a moment to research what they see, then they could learn the truth behind Facebook posts and Twitter tweets. Fake news exists en masse these days, and far too many people believe these lies. Even 30 seconds of research often reveals the truth. Therefore, as many users as possible should take the time to perform such research. Blindly sharing and retweeting fake news or misinformation is far more damaging to society than most people realize. It’s not a joke by any means.
We’ll see dozens upon dozens more cases similar to this one moving forward. Every few days an outrageous image or video is shared on social media. Parts of these posts may be real, but more often a deceitful caption causes an uproar that shouldn’t exist. Yes, elementary school children were on the ground, hands over their heads. They were practicing a tornado drill, though. Perhaps social media users are too gullible or ignorant to figure out that scandalous images are usually fake news.