Photo of 2001 Alaska oil spill goes viral when magazine says it's from recent Alberta spill

Around 2,100 people have liked the Facebook page of Common Ground, a free monthly magazine distributed primarily in Western Canada. Yet as of this writing over 19,000 people have shared an alarming photo posted to its page on Friday. About 3,500 people liked the post, making it a huge hit for the magazine.

The problem? Common Ground claims the below image is from a recent oil spill in Alberta. It's actually from a 2001 spill in Alaska. Even though many commenters on the Common Ground post point this out, the image has still spread, and continues to do so.

The post in question:

This example comes not long after BBC News had to apologize for publishing a photo it said possibly showed the aftermath of a massacre in Syria. In fact, the photo was taken in Iraq in 2003.

Interestingly, a few commenters on the Common Ground Facebook post seem happy to ignore the fact that the image isn't from the recent spill. Here are two examples:

I also scrolled back through a large number of the recent reshares of the image/post and not a single one of them pointed out that the image was not from Alberta.

Hat tip to photojournalist (and friend) Liam Maloney

  • Craig Silverman

    Craig Silverman ( is an award-winning journalist and the founder of Regret the Error, a blog that reports on media errors and corrections, and trends regarding accuracy and verification.


Related News

Email IconGroup 3Facebook IconLinkedIn IconsearchGroupTwitter IconGroup 2YouTube Icon