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Photos don’t show victims of a Black Lives Matter ‘hate group’

August 28, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: Photos show five white people who were beaten up by a Black Lives Matter “hate group” because of their skin color. 

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Several of the photos in this viral post have circulated on the internet long before recent Black Lives Matter protests. At least two have been identified online as victims of unrelated crimes in South Africa. 

THE FACTS: A graphic Facebook post with more than a million views claims to show white people savagely beaten by activists in the Black Lives Matter movement — but it actually appears to show victims of unrelated crimes, dating back as far as 2010.

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The post features the battered, bruised and stitched-up faces of five people with the caption, “Beat up by BLM a hate group. Had this removed earlier.” 

The Aug. 22 Facebook post, which circulated widely on Aug. 28, included the additional caption, “Attacked for being white.”

But reverse-image searches of the photos in the post reveal they aren’t represented accurately.

All five of the photos have been circulating online for years, long before the recent protests in the United States in response to the death of George Floyd. They appeared together with an assortment of other photos in 2015 on a website the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled racist and anti-Semitic.

One of the pictures, a photo of an older woman with a bruised face, dates back to at least 2010, according to a reverse-image search. That was years before the Black Lives Matter movement first gained ground after the 2012 shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Blogs at the time labeled the woman as a victim of a home invasion in South Africa.

Local news sites in South Africa have also identified a different woman in the photos as Anne Els, a 2014 home invasion victim in the African country. Her photo, which shows her with a black eye and a swollen face, has circulated on social media over the years with other bogus descriptions, including false claims she was raped by Muslim immigrants in Sweden.

Though explanations for all of the photos weren’t readily available, a trail tracing them back through years of online posts proves these injuries did not result from recent Black Lives Matter protests. 

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536