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Madison Czopek
By Madison Czopek February 8, 2023

Photo shows ‘Game of Thrones’ characters, not victims of earthquake in Turkey, Syria

If Your Time is short

  • An Instagram account with more than a quarter of a million followers shared a photo from the TV series "Game of Thrones" and said it showed victims of the powerful earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria.

  • Some commenters recognized the image was fake and encouraged the poster to take the post down.

More than 11,000 people in Syria and Turkey have died after a devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake and more than 60 aftershocks tore through the region in the early morning of Feb. 6. 

In the days that followed, many people shared real photos of the destruction and ongoing rescue efforts. Despite an overwhelming number of images showing actual scenes of devastation, some images circulating on social media are not what they claim. 

A Feb. 7 post from an Instagram account with more than 260,000 followers is one example. 

The account shared a picture of two bloodied individuals surrounded by bricks and rubble and included the caption: "#prayforturkey #prayforsyria #earthquake #turkeyearthquake2023."

(Screenshot from Instagram.)

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

People familiar with HBO’s hit fantasy drama "Game of Thrones" quickly recognized the image.

What follows is a years-old spoiler alert: The photo featured two well-known characters from the series, Cersei and Jaime Lannister who were found dead together under a pile of rubble in the show’s final episode.

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The Instagram account’s misleading use of the image did not escape many commenters, who pointed out that the photo wasn’t connected to the earthquake at all. 

"This is disrespectful to the victims," read one comment. 

Another said: "You just discredited everything you ever posted with this post. Unfollowing." 

Many commenters encouraged the person behind the Instagram account to delete the photo. 

The account had previously shared other videos it said were of the earthquake and its aftermath, and at least some of that footage was verified by news organizations.

It’s not uncommon for scenes from movies, video games or TV shows to be shared as if they’re legitimate breaking news events. We’ve seen such examples disguised as scenes from Russia’s war in Ukraine and Italy’s early COVID-19 outbreak, to name a couple.

We rate the claim that the photo showed victims of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria False.

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Photo shows ‘Game of Thrones’ characters, not victims of earthquake in Turkey, Syria

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