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Conservative UK Politician Gets Called Out After Sharing A Clearly-Doctored Image Aimed At Refugee Supporters

Conservative politicians tweeting out fake news to rile up their base isn’t unique to the United States. In the U.K., former U.K. Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage has just made headlines for posting a photo of pro-refugee protesters that has clearly been Photoshopped. Though the tweet has now been deleted, many of Farage’s 1.2 million followers had already seen it.

The photo has been altered so the woman’s sign appears to say “My legs are open for refugees.” Farage then blamed the “high rates of sexual crime” in Cologne and Malmo on refugees settling in the area—a baseless accusation which research does not support. No correlation has been found between sexual crime rates and the presence of refugees in the area.

Meanwhile, Canadian journalist Lasia Kretzel, who took the actual photo, felt uncomfortable with such a high profile individual passing around doctored versions of her work. The real photo is from a rally of welcome in 2015, when Canadian residents were eager to make Syrian refugees feel at home in a new country. The real sign in the photo read “My door is open for refugees.”

A year or so later, Kretzel received word her photo was being manipulated and used to spread a message of hate, but she felt there was little she could do:

I was upset to see my photo having been manipulated and was being spread as truth, it was disappointing to see that.

At the end of the day there are so many images online that could get lost and fade from existence, which is what I wanted…I wanted it to die and disappear into the vast ether of the internet.

The final straw was when Farage, a notable public figure, shared the photo with over a million people.

Kretzel took to Twitter to clarify the truth:

Farage had deleted the tweet, acknowledging the photo was fake, by the time Kretzel posted her response, but that didn’t stop him from continuing to peddle his hateful message:

Kretzel was especially disappointed that Farage, who many people listen to, would be so irresponsible with his posting:

He has the eyes and ears of thousands of people daily, listening to him, believing that what he says is truth, or at least that it’s well researched and thorough.

I would hope that individuals that are in broadcast like he is would put in the time to recognize whether an image is real or not before putting it out. At the very least just to cover their butt legally!

Regardless of how I feel personally about anything that’s going on in British politics, or with Farage himself or anyone else who has shared these images, it was the fact that this image had been changed and was being peddled as fact that’s bothered me.

She also posted about the situation on Facebook:

In an era of instant information sharing, it's important that we check the information we are spreading to make sure it'...

Posted by Lasia Kretzel on Sunday, July 15, 2018

Kretzel did get a bit of a pick-me-up from the people who supported her act of calling out Farage, however:

Regardless of what happened after, I wanted to show that this was a fake image, and maybe help stop it in the end. If I’d called someone out who was a nobody, I don’t think anyone would have cared, or that it would have received the attention it is getting.

I never expected the kind of response that I have been getting and it’s been wonderful to see the support that people have been showing to this.

Twitter also backed up Kretzel:

So, Mr. Farage, the next time you’re pushing out a false narrative to scapegoat a vulnerable group of people and incite fear and outrage among your base, at least take the time to check whether your photos are legitimate!

H/T – Buzzfeed, The Guardian

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Written by Collin Gossel

Collin Gossel is a writer and comedian living in Brooklyn, New York, but there are nights when he looks up at the stars and wistfully thinks to himself “there’s got to be more out there…” You can catch Collin improvising new musicals every Tuesday night at the Magnet Theater’s Musical Megawatt, or follow his unfiltered thoughts on Twitter and Instagram @CollinGossel.--