Remember how almost every year there is a stock image of a lit-up India captured from space that does rounds on social media? And remember how every time it is proved to be fake? Well, something similar happened recently except this time far too many people were ‘fooled’. Recently, a breathtaking picture of ‘India during Diwali as seen from the cosmos’ had gone viral on social media. The picture was shared by astronaut Paolo Nespoli (@astro_paolo), with the message: “The Hindu Festival of Lights, starts today #HappyDiwali to everyone! #VITAmission.” Since it was taken by an astronaut, the picture was automatically assumed to be authentic and was widely shared (this even made it to various headlines, including that of indianexpress.com). And though the picture is indeed beautiful there is a slight problem — it’s a picture of India from space alright, but it’s not a Diwali night photo! Yes, you read that right.
This was the tweet that had gone viral and has more than 5,000 retweets at the time of writing.
— Paolo Nespoli (@astro_paolo) October 19, 2017
And here is the picture that mentions the date on which it was clicked.
Although Nespoli shared the picture he did not explicitly mention the date on which the it was taken. A couple of days later, a Twitter user had managed to dig out and tweet that the photograph was originally shared by the astronaut on his Flickr account on September 29, 2017, nearly a month before Diwali!
— Sumit Sundriyal 🇮🇳 (@SumitSun14) October 22, 2017
Social media can be a great space for sharing pictures and information, and more often not we do chance upon a rare photograph or something rewarding. But it can also fuel re-sharing of fake photographs and untrue information and perhaps people will learn to act with caution after this.