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By Yanqi Xu March 1, 2019

Facebook post claims CNN uses same girl in photos of separate refugee crises

We’ve seen many social media posts challenge news organizations’ use of war photos. Recently, the Facebook account Defend the Jewish Nation posted a photo collage captioned, "When CNN uses the same girl in 3 different Refugee Crisis pictures being saved by 3 different men."

In the pictures, a little girl can be seen wearing the same outfit in the hands of three different men, all of whom appear to be evacuating a scene after a bombing.

Did CNN use the girl’s photo three times to pass off as three separate occasions of refugee crises? Could they have, as the post post insinuates, staged the photos using a child actor playing the role of someone who was rescued three times by three different men? The answer to both of these questions: No.

Here's how we know.

We ran a reverse image search on the collage using the online tool TinEye and found the collage meme spread online as early as December 2016. But we could find no instance where the meme specified what on what three occasions CNN supposedly used the photos to illustrate separate crises.

So, we decided to look at each image individually. We discovered that CNN has used two of them in their web content.

One image (the one on the left) was included in a CNN web story about a barrel bomb airstrike of a funeral in rebel-controlled eastern Aleppo published on Aug. 27, 2016. It was also used as the cover page for a video of CNN on Sept. 17, 2016, according to a search on Wayback Machine.

Another photo (the one in the middle) was first included in a CNN web article in early September 2016 in a text story about the agreement between the United States and Russia for Syrian ceasefire. Under the photo, the caption read, "A Syrian man carries a wounded child in eastern Aleppo in August." That caption is accurate.

The same photos were used in many other news stories by other news organizations reflecting the same event, including NBC and Foreign Policy, according to our search.

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A reverse image search shows that the photo on the right-hand side appeared in a news article published on Aug. 28, 2016, on AOL about the same event.

Our image search found no evidence that CNN used  the photos on its website in a misleading way as to illustrate any other refugee crisis. We also saw no indication that the photos were used in video on the CNN cable channel.

The photo versions used by CNN included watermarks on the right-hand side of the images. They were attributed to Ameer Alhalbi (a pseudonym used by Syrian freelance Mashhadiphotographer Walid Mashhadi) for the international news agency Agence France-Presse and visual media company Getty Images.

AFP, the agency that distributed the photo confirmed in a fact-check that the three photos involved in the claim were actually taken on the same day — Aug. 27, 2016, in eastern Aleppo, Syria. The photos show a girl being rescued by Syria Civil Defence volunteers, also known as the White Helmets.

AFP’s fact-check also stated that the girl was passed along from one volunteer to another, which is why she is pictured wearing the same clothes with three different people holding her.

In the first picture, the girl was carried by a rescue worker in a white helmet together with another boy. In other photos, she was moved farther away from the building.

In a Washington Post news story on Aug. 27, 2016, about the funeral bombing, we could see that the child was passed over from the rescue worker in the leftmost photo to the man in the plaid shirt in the rightmost photo. That the three photos capture a sequence of rescue action makes sense.

Our ruling

Defend the Jewish Nation shared a viral image that accused CNN of using "the same girl in 3 different Refugee Crisis pictures being saved by 3 different men."

The accusation is unfounded. CNN did not "use" the girl or take part in the creation of the photos, and there’s a lack of evidence to prove that the photos were used to refer incorrectly to three different wars.

We rate this claim False.

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Facebook post claims CNN uses same girl in photos of separate refugee crises

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