Stock photo of child misrepresented online as quake aftermath

February 7, 2023 GMT

CLAIM: A photo of a child crouching and holding their head in rubble was taken in the aftermath of the earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria Monday.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The photo is a stock image taken in 2018 in Ukraine.

THE FACTS: A years-old stock photo of a small child crouching amidst strewn rubble while holding their head in their hands has spread widely on social media platforms following Monday’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake that killed thousands across southeastern Turkey and neighboring Syria.

Some users shared the image among real photos of the quake’s aftermath, suggesting that it also showed the destruction.

“This is utterly heartbreaking, completely devastated,” one Facebook user who shared the photo among other images wrote Monday. “I pray for Turkey & Syria and for the people trapped under the rubble.”

A Twitter user who shared the photo alone wrote Monday, “Heart heavy for #Turkey #Syria #Lebanon and all the other places affected by the massive #earthquake today.”

But the photo does not show a child in Syria or Turkey following Monday’s earthquake. A reverse image search shows it appears on various stock photography websites, including Shutterstock, which credits the photo to a photographer from Ukraine.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, the photographer noted that the image was circulating widely in the aftermath of the earthquake, but that it was taken in 2018 in Ukraine, and then uploaded to the Shutterstock and Adobe stock image sites.

Other images from stock websites have been misrepresented online as scenes of the earthquake’s aftermath. Social media users also shared a variety of old and unrelated videos, falsely claiming that they showed the quake.

The death toll from Monday’s earthquake has climbed above 7,700 and is expected to rise, The Associated Press reported. More than 8,000 people have been pulled from the debris in Turkey, and some 380,000 have taken refuge in government shelters or hotels, authorities said.


This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.