In the aftermath of a blast at the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza, which killed hundreds of Palestinian patients and refugees in the medical complex, rampant misinformation has once again clogged online information avenues.
As has been observed since the outbreak of the conflict last week, instances of misinformation have largely presented themselves in the form of users, either intentionally or inadvertently, sharing old video footage as documentation of current events.
Case in point: One viral video purporting to depict the blast on Tuesday — which shows a rocket veering off its intended course and back into the area from which it had been fired — was quickly identified as having been posted on X (formerly Twitter) in 2022.
Another video claiming to depict a rocket failing amid a barrage of launches from the Gaza Strip was identified as footage posted on the Israeli Defense Force’s YouTube channel in August 2022.
The official X account for the Israeli government edited one of their tweets, which accused the PIJ of being responsible for the devastation in Al-Ahli Hospital. In its edit, the government removed a video purporting to show the rocket launches from their tweet after social media users pointed out that the timestamp on the clip was inconsistent with the reported time of the hospital strike.
X’s own changes to its verification system, which stripped previously verified reporters whose employment was confirmed through their respective news outlets, also contributed to the barrage of misinformation.
One account, operating under the name Farida Khan, claimed to be a reporter for Al Jazeera. The account posted that they had witnessed the strike themselves, claiming it was a “Hamas Ayyash 250″ Rocket. “It was Hamas misfired Rocket. Al Jazeera is lying. I have video of that Hamas missile landing in the hospital,” the unverified account claimed.
Al Jazeera clarified that the account “has no ties to Al Jazeera, its views, or content,” and advised social media users to “exercise caution, [and] verify information prior to publishing.”