TIME: Astha Rajvanshi
Earlier this week, Marc Zell, a representative for Republicans Overseas Israel, a U.S.-based political organization, shared a video on X that claimed to show a Hamas militant with a kidnapped Jewish girl taken to Gaza. “Hamas terrorist with kidnapped Jewish baby girl in Gaza. The caption in Arabic reads ‘ A lost girl’,” Zell posted.
The clip has been viewed 1.1 million times and received almost 2,000 shares. But soon after it was posted to X, users pointed out that the video originated on TikTok and dates back to September. The original poster in turn deleted the video but it continues to circulate across social media. A Community Note—a crowd-sourced, fact-checking feature on the platform—has since appeared under Zell’s post that states “there is no indication” that the video, which was published before Hamas’ attack, shows a “‘Jewish girl’, that the child was kidnapped, that [the] video was shot in Gaza.”
The video is one of many examples of unverified, false, or misleading information swirling around on social media since Hamas launched a surprise, unprecedented attack against Israel on Oct. 7 that has left at least 1,300 people dead in the country. In Gaza, more than 1,400 Gazans have died from retaliatory Israeli airstrikes.
Much of the graphic imagery and footage surfacing on social media depicts real and credible evidence of violence committed during the Israel-Hamas war. But experts say social media platforms have also been flooded with swaths of misinformation and disinformation, adding to the confusion about what is happening on the ground. It includes inaccurate claims and fabricated assertions, and the resurfacing of old and unrelated war footage or video game footage.
“In times of general chaos and conflict, we do see a lot of disinformation and misinformation,” says Lisa Kaplan, founder of Alethea, a company tracking misinformation and disinformation. “This was true during the invasion of Ukraine, the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, and now, with the conflict between Israel and Hamas.”
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