As news of the devastation across the Amazon rainforest broke, many took to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to share their horror at the extent of fires in the region. The hashtag #AmazonRainforest was trending on Wednesday and into Thursday on Twitter, with many sharing images of the burning forest. However, not all of these photos actually reflect the current state of the forest.
Twitter also heats up with a debate on the dangers of fires in the rainforest although celebrities are using old pictures to bring the issue into focus.
Many parts of the Amazon rainforest are on fire. The rainforest is the world’s greatest bioreserve and has a huge impact on the environment and the climate. While the flames were licking upwards, twitter trends were also heating up with celebrities jumping on the bandwagon. Indian celebrities, often seen trying to catch an international trend, are sometimes derided for not showing the same concern for what’s happening within our country.
Celebrities like Arjun Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Akshay Kumar, Anushka Sharma, Mahesh Babu, Rakul Preet Singh, and comedian Vivek have tweeted about the raging Amazon forest fire. But they have not been seen to be so active when it comes to issues happening within India. Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio has also been sharing images and posts on Instagram and Twitter to raise awareness of the fires and telling people on what they can do to help.
Unfortunately, one of the many images DeCaprio shared was published in February 2018 and is not of the current Amazon fire. The pictures used by celebrities Alia Bhatt, Dishapatani, Diamirza, and Hansika are all from years ago and of a completely different but similar ecological disasters. Some pictures doing the rounds on the internet are for representation purposes and they don’t have factual merit. But it’s not just celebrities as many other people are also sharing such old pictures under a trending hashtag.
In another viral post, which model Kardashian’s sister retweeted to her more than 28 million followers - both images do not show the Amazon rainforest.
One image shows a fire in Serbia, whilst the other one was taken by photographer Daniel Beltrá and was used in 2014 in articles on fires in Sweden.
Another image posted on Wednesday shows a fire at Brazil’s Taim Ecological Station in 2013. It was captured for Getty by Lauro Alves.
And finally, but not by any means the last of the images to be incorrectly labelled - Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio shared an image of fires burning against a wall of green forest.
Nikki Galrani says, “”It’s sad many celebs want to be part of a trend. It’s important to be responsible during these times. Such calamities have deep social, cultural and political outcomes. Celebrities must be sensitive before just being a part of a trend”
Anu Priya, social media expert says, “Most of the people here are joining the bandwagon without even verifying images and posting photos that may or may not be of the Amazon forest. A lot of people are posting California fire pictures. This is a boon or bane of social media not just in this issue. I also personally feel that these celebrities have some social responsibilities because they have a million followers. So, before posting they need to verify such things.”
The issue is, however, huge and can affect areas far beyond the Amazon rainforest that goes through so many South American countries. The Amazon is considered “the lungs” of the world and produces about a fifth of the planet’s oxygen. French President Macron tweeted on it but was criticised for trying to make political gain of the crisis, according to the Brazilian president.
The one positive impact of celebrities tweeting about the problem is Brazil is waking up to the disaster as the fires are said to be 84 per cent more than last year. Wrong pictures or not, the celebrity tweets are helping to focus on the Amazon rainforest.