Social media rumors rife amid ongoing Gaza conflict

As the conflict in Gaza continues into its thirteenth day, and amid rising casualties (at least 429 Palestinians and 18 Israelis have been killed thus far), we're investigating some of the images circulating on social media to try to ascertain a clearer picture of what's real and what's fake.

If you have a link to a tweet, video or photo that you want to investigate, or help us investigate, then create an account and submit a report.

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Update #1

Viral image claims to show brutal IDF warning SMS

The first image below - shared widely on Facebook and Twitter - is a screengrab from a dramatization found on the Raya FM Facebook page. The second image below is from an Instagram post in 2012 - we've added it here to show an authentic IDF warning SMS.

False by Meedan
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Twitter user @7__r has done some digging and turned up this video clip from the Raya FM Facebook page. The clip is clearly a dramatization, and this image is clearly a screengrab. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=855637941113001&fref=nf More work could uncover if this is the original video, but for now we can mark this image as "false".

Tom

One Twitter user posted a link to this image, which is in Arabic and reads: "The next stage is approaching. Get away from Hamas elements" - this seems a more likely language and message from the IDF (unclear when this image is from) http://972mag.com/idf-sends-text-message-to-gaza-mobile-phones-the-next-...

Tom

Fielded this image to Twitter - lots of red flags raised: 1) Why is the message in English and not Arabic or Hebrew? 2) Why is "Israel Army" saved as a contact? 3) This doesn't seem to be in line with other similar IDF messages.

Arabic text message sent by the Israeli army to mobile phones in Gaza 972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.
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Other photos uploaded to @RanaGaza's Instagram account suggest she was in Gaza in November 2012, when "Operation Pillar of Defense" saw IDF strike Gaza over a sustained period of eight days. Tentatively marking this as verified: It passes the common sense check, +972 is a reputable media outlet, and there are no red flags from reverse image search etc.

Tom

This photo (original here: http://instagram.com/p/SGM62wNABX/) is apparently a photograph from Twitter user @RanaGaza of her father's phone, taken in 2012. The Arabic reads "The next phase is on the way. Stay away from Hamas elements."

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Mississippi braces for tornado

A severe storm warning is in place across Mississippi today - we'll bring live updates here on Meedan Checkdesk.

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Update #1

Tornado photos emerge on Twitter, official warning in place

Sometimes tornadoes almost form on your head in Mississippi pic.twitter.com/dfNuPI1NRV

— Kyle Cate (@Kyle_Cate) June 9, 2014
Verified by Meedan
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Again, no red flags from reverse image search and Kyle's Twitter bio and history check out - looks like he's also a student at Ole Miss (which is in Oxford, Mississippi, which also checks out). Great shot! Maybe Brad and Kyle should team up as storm shooters.

Tom

Another foreboding photo - also going to check out the source and run some reverse image searches.

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Big storm cell blowing into Oxford pic.twitter.com/74tF45ynSZ

— Brad Lanier (@bblanier) June 9, 2014
Verified by Meedan
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This Brad Lanier looks to be the same chap in the Twitter bio - so it seems feasible that he is where he claims: https://www.facebook.com/brad.lanier.5 Also there were no red flags from the reverse image search. Corroborating photos mean that this looks like the real deal - and what an amazing shot!

Tom

The replies to this photo show that it's been picked up by some channels - including FOX. I'm going to do some digging, starting with a reverse image search and osme investigation on the source.

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Aide to Erdoğan pictured kicking protester in Soma following Turkey mine disaster

Alarming images have surfaced online appearing to show an aide to Turkish prime minister Tayyeb Reccip Erdoğan kicking a protester in Soma amid a stormy visit from the PM to the scene of Turkey's worst ever mining disaster, which left 282 dead last week.

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Update #4

Aide given sick leave?

Turkish PM's aide Yusef Yerkel 'given sick leave' for injuring his leg after kicking protester - http://t.co/sOwnys1iVD

— Reddit World News (@WorldNewsReddit) May 21, 2014
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Tom

This seems to be based on a Hurriyet Daily news report - it's quoted in detail here, but it's curious that this is the only English language version, and that the Independent are hedging their bets by saying "alleged". Keen to know more about how Hurriyet acquired the source material - it feels "too good to be true".

Update #3

Who is the man that was kicked by Yerkel?

We'd love to hear more about this underreported aspect of this story - please send more info our way if you have it! I suspect it may have been covered more in the Turkish media than English language media, but surely we need to hear from the man attacked by Yerkel.

Update #2

SOAS distance themselves from Yerkel after kick uproar

With much of the UK media reporting that Yerkel was formerly a PhD student at SOAS, the university has moved to distance themselves form any association with the kicking aide.

Meanwhile, here's another photo - from another angle - of the kick.

It's still unclear who it was on the recieving end of the kick, or what they said to Yerkel to merit such treatment...

Update #1

Yerkal kick image goes viral - can it be verified?

The man doing the kicking is Erdogan's advisor. The man on the ground lost a relative in Soma http://t.co/76m9UIKvyW pic.twitter.com/jkBYXnAPOE

— the Lemniscat (@theLemniscat) May 15, 2014
Verified by Meedan
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Given the weight of reporting in world media, the number of photos and videos from different angles, and an "apology" from the perpetrator, we can say this is "verified", though questions certainly remain as to the identity of the man being kicked.

Tom

This AP report quotes Turkish media featuring a quasi-apology from Yerkel: ""I am sorry that I was not able to keep calm despite all the provocations, insults and attacks that I was subjected to," he said.

Tom

There's video footage from another angle here: http://www.milliyet.tv/video-izle/Basbakanlik-musaviri-Yusuf-Yerkel-vata...

Tom

The man doing the kicking is widely being reported to be Yusef Yerkel, an advisor to Erdogan. This Guardian report has a photo of him alongside Erdogan in Soma (either pre or post- kicking) and it certainly appears to be the same man (face, clothes etc.): http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/15/turkey-mine-disaster-aid-pm...

Media for Social Change Unconference

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Update #1

Researchers, students, activists, techies gather in Birmingham for M4SC Unconference

At the "Media for Social Change Unconference" w the talented @Meedan team! I'll be joining a panel of inspiring pple to discuss MENA ##M4SC

— Raja Althaibani (@RajaAlthaibani) May 3, 2014
Verified by Meedan
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Raja has confirmed in person here at BCU that she is credible.

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However, the notion that hte Meedan team is talented is disputed

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I believe Raja to be a highly credible source - she has more than 5000 followers and has tweeted more than 6000 times https://twitter.com/RajaAlthaibani

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Did the Dutch PM Ride His Bike to Meet Obama?

The Netherlands is renowned for its excellent bicycle infrastructre that spans the entire country. It is a common and popular method of transportation for people of all ages, and accounts for 59% of trips within cities. But when Obama flew to the Netherlands to meet world leaders, did the Dutch PM actually ride his bike to meet him?

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Update #1

A tweet was shared by around 1500 people showed the Dutch PM riding on his bike, allegedly headed to meet Obama and other world leaders.

This apparently is how the Dutch PM arrived to meet Obama today pic.twitter.com/Vn5JXhobki

— Gernot Wagner (@GernotWagner) March 26, 2014
False by Meedan
Anas

While this photo is not of the PM heading to meet Obama, we still don't have info about how he actually arrived to the meeting.

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Twitter users have pointed out that this photo is actually two years old https://twitter.com/letterror/statuses/448810667777474560

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As the tweet went viral, it sparked conversation about the infrastructure in the Netherlands, bike safety, and the eco-friendliness of biking.

Erwin Boogert chimed in asserting that the PM goes to his office on his bike everyday:

The popularity of a tweet invites scrutiny:

It didn't take long for the origin of the photo to be verified by diligent tweeps.

Mesut Özil and Manuel Neuer: High school team mates?

After Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer saved German compatriot Mesut Özil's tame penalty kick early in his team's recent Champions League match with Arsenal, some pundits questioned whether Neuer's friendship with Özil gave him the edge in stopping the shot and preventing his team from going behind. One photo in particular - published in several high profile news outlets - suggests that the history between the two goes all the way back to high school......

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Update #2

Twitter account @Football_GIF makes Neuer-Özil school link

This tweet, posted on the night of the match, seems to be the original source - let's do some verification in the fact checking footnotes.

. @MesutOzil1088 and @Manuel_Neuer have known each other for quite some time. #UCL #AFC #FCB pic.twitter.com/b6y1HrvVrB

— Immediate Highlights (@Football_GIF) February 19, 2014
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Tom

This profile of Özil and Neuer (in German) may hold further clues, but sadly my German isn't up to picking through the details: http://www.welt.de/sport/fussball/em-2012/article106387698/Neuer-unschei... . On the whole I'm inclined to say that Neuer isn't the kid in the photo, but it's difficult to know 100% either way. We await further updates!

Tom

This profile of Özil explains that he and Neuer went to the same school, but that the German keeper was a few years ahead of the Arsenal playmaker. This makes sense when you bear in mind that Neuer is 27, while Özil is only 25: http://www.sport.net/the-making-of-arsenals-mesut-ozil_67387

Update #1

Guardian, Yahoo, Sun show Neuer and Özil posing for a team photograph at school

The photo of Özil - recognizable as a child - and another boy, claimed to be Neuer, has appeared in several international news outlets (in print and online) thus far:

Neuer's Champions League penalty stop from Ozil was 21 years in the making 'Neuer's Champions League penalty stop from Ozil was 21 years in the making' on Yahoo Eurosport UK. Not a lot of people know this, but Manuel Neuer was saving Mesut Ozil's penalties 21 years ago when the pair attended the same school back in Germany. Continue reading →

View image on Twitter

Instability in Sinai following removal of Morsi

Egypt's Sinai region has seen continued instability in recent weeks, following the Army's removal of Mohammed Morsi as the country's president. Several attacks against the army and police have taken place, notably in the north Sinai city of el-Arish.

Sinai is a popular tourist destination for western tourists, though many have speculated that the area has also seen an influx of weapons in recent years from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

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Update #5

Video claims to show RPG attack on cargo vessel in Suez Canal

Tom

This Twitter account claims this is the statement issued by Kataeb al-Furqan promising more attacks on ships - it must be posted somewhere (Egy media are referring to a statement claiming responsibility) but I can't find the original: https://twitter.com/EgySpecialForce/status/375614551510630401/photo/1

Tom

The video has also been posted by prominent activist Wael Abbas on YouTube here http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=buS4mfEX3w0 and there's a useful comment in Arabic: "That place is probably "Al-Kab" after the "Permit collection area" for the Ismailia-Port Said Road. I say that because I know the area well, I'm from Ismailia and I come and go from Port Said. I can tell this area from the vegetation around the canal. Anyone who thinks that the police and army wouldn't let someone get that close to the canal, let me tell you that the road is only 500-700m away from the canal and anyone can stop their car and go get close to the canal. I'm not confirming or denying the video, just trying to think with you guys."

Tom

There is no visual of the impact of the first RPG, all you can get is the sound of a small explosion. The visual of the second RPG looks a little fishy to me - there's seemingly no damage to the ship and the camera doesn't stick around long enough for a good view of what happens next. I'm going to hunt to see where else this has been posted, and to see if any major news outlets have picked it up.

Tom

Around 3 seconds in there's a blurry visual of the possible name of the vessel on the bow of the ship: Asia. Having searched we can find a ship that matches this possible name: the Cosco Asia. Using marinetraffic.com we can see that the Cosco Asia did indeed pass through the Suez Canal on September 1, 2013 http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=9&oldmmsi=356581000&o...

Tom

This video was posted to On Masr channel on Sep 4: first port of call - no pun intended - is to check that there was a Cosco ship in the vicinity in the past few days.

Update #3

Further confirmation here that the Sinai Sun was the target of the attack, this reporter claiming that the concript who was guarding the hotel was shot dead.

مصرع مجند من قوة تأمين فندق سينا صن برصاص مسلحين #سيناء #Sinai

— Sinai سيناء (@muhamedsabry) August 1, 2013
In Progress

Update #2

Sky news reports one dead in attack on El-Arish hotel, military/police conscript

Sky News Arabic has reported the attack, claiming that a conscript (could be attached to the police or the army) has been killed.

Twitter user @iAHMEDsalih claims the hotel targetted is the Sinai Sun hotel

@SkyNewsArabia_B Sina Sun hotel

— صالح Ahmed (@iAHMEDsalih) August 1, 2013
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This tweet from a local journalist seems to confirm that the Sinai Sun was the target of the attack. https://twitter.com/muhamedsabry/statuses/362887372121182208

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This Google Map shows the Sinai Sun hotel in Arish, on 26 July Street.

TT @Fo2ElSoto7 - Translated Twitter Narrative July 26th Ibrahim Gamal Eldin

Ibrahim Gamal Eldin requested translations of his tweets published from the Alexandria Field Hospital on July 26th between 125pm and 440pm (Local time). There are many narratives covering many sides of the tragedy unfolding in Egypt. These tweets tell one story of personal loss amidst the chaos.

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Update #2

Update #1

US NSA admits to big data surveilance project PRISM

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Update #3

US surveillance programs expanding under Obama

US surveillance has 'expanded' under Obama, says Bush's NSA director The former director of the US National Security Agency has indicated that surveillance programs have "expanded" under Barack Obama's time in office and said the spy agency has more powers now than when he was in command. Michael Hayden, who served most of his tenure as NSA director under George W Bush, said there was "incredible continuity" between the two presidents.

The Guardian reports, "The former director of the US National Security Agency has indicated that surveillance programs have "expanded" under Barack Obama's time in office and said the spy agency has more powers now than when he was in command."

Update #2

Update from the US Director of National Intelligence

The PRISM program is explained in this June 8th letter from the DNI.

"PRISM is not an undisclosed collection or data mining program. It is an internal government
computer system used to facilitate the government’s statutorily authorized collection of
foreign intelligence information from electronic communication service providers under
court supervision, as authorized by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
(FISA) (50 U.S.C. § 1881a). This authority was created by the Congress and has been widely
known and publicly discussed since its inception in 2008."

Update #1

NSA PRISM legal considerations

Terror as a second or third order effect of personal communication surveillance by governments Several years ago, during a session at Harvard Law School led by a small group of Google executives, I asked one of those executives about his company's strategy behind starting services in categories where there was no obvious direct business benefit. The answer that came back fascinated me.

Doc Searls from Harvard's Berkman Center for the Internet and Society has blogged an overview of the debate on the NSA PRISM program.

DNI Statement on Recent Unauthorized Disclosures of Classified Information DNI Statement on Recent Unauthorized Disclosures of Classified Information Thursday, June 06, 2013 June 6, 2013 DNI Statement on Recent Unauthorized Disclosures of Classified Information The highest priority of the Intelligence Community is to work within the constraints of law to collect, analyze and understand information related to potential threats to our national security.
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The Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper, released this statement on June 6th.

The Volokh Conspiracy In his post below, my co-blogger Stewart Baker points out DNI James Clapper's statement about the FISC order requiring Verizon to turn over its entire call records database to the NSA. I was particularly interested in this paragraph: By order of the FISC, the Government is prohibited from indiscriminately sifting through the telephony metadata acquired under the program.

Orin Kerr quotes from his 2011 Brooking Center essay-

The benefit of computer surveillance is that it can process information quickly and inexpensively to learn what would have been unknowable. Assembling and processing information may lead to plausible conclusions that are far more far- reaching than the information left separate. If so, data manipulation can have an amplifying effect, turning low impact information in isolation into high impact information when processed.

Reaping these benefits requires surveillance systems that allow the initial collection and processing. To reap those benefits, the best way to design surveillance systems is to allow the initial collection but then place sharp limits on the later stages such as disclosure.

"The NSA call records program appears to be that idea on steroids: Collect everything, and then control access to the database created. But I’m left puzzled as to what the legal basis is for what appears to be happening. Where are they getting the Terry standard here?"

The Terry Standard being the 4th Admendment standard that defines when the police can justifiably stop a person and question them. If we carried the analogy through, we might imagine that the government assumes it has access to the metadata that tells them what street their suspect is walking down and when - the discretion comes at the point they decide to 'look at the data.'

Ikhwan Online Alexandria Gathering Photo from July 11

Was an old photo used to support the reporting of a gathering in Alexandria last night?

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Update #4

The December 19, 2012 Posting Using Same Photo from Alamat Online

مجلة أمريكية: نتائج الاستفتاء على الدستور في مصر صفعة للبرادعي اعتبرت مجلة "فورين بوليسي" الأمريكية أن نتائج المرحلة الأولى من الاستفتاء الذي قال فيها 57% من المصريين "نعم" للدستور، تمثل صفعة لمزاعم رئيس حزب الدستور د. محمد البرادعي منسق جبهة الإنقاذ الوطني، والذي ادعى أن الدستور لا يمثل المصريين، ودعا أنصاره للمقاطعة ثم دعاهم بالتصويت لرفض الدستور.

Update #3

#fail - Uh Oh - Photo Previously Used in December 2012

@elijahzarwan @Ikhwanweb good eye. This website used the same photo in December. http://t.co/myXwTzbJW6

— Basil الضبع (@basildabh) July 12, 2013
Verified by Meedan

Update #2

Sweaters in Alexandria in July?

.@Ikhwanweb seems like it was pretty cold in Alexandria last night with all the sweaters in the picture #fail

— Mohamed Younis (@MrMYounis) July 12, 2013
In Progress

Update #1

The Tweet from Ikhwan official account

More than 120K protest against #Military_Coup in Alexandria مسيرة بالإسكندرية رفضًا للانقلاب العسكري على الشرعية http://t.co/xB0yqEcoki

— Ikhwanweb (@Ikhwanweb) July 12, 2013
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Based on the evidence presented by @basildabh in https://twitter.com/basildabh/status/355717333278404608 we can assert that this is a false and mis-attributed image.

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