Social Media

Rumors and misinformation circulate on social media following Paris attacks

The Eiffel tower is closed for security reasons and guarded by police following Fridays terrorist attack on November 15, 2015 in Paris, France.
Xavier Laine | Getty Images

Social media sites can be a quick way for people to learn about breaking news — but it's not always accurate.

In the wake of the devastating attacks in Paris on Friday that left at least 129 people dead and hundreds more injured, social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram were flooded with updates on the coordinated attack. However, not all of that information was correct.

People hug on the street near the Bataclan concert hall following fatal attacks in Paris, France, November 14, 2015. Gunmen and bombers attacked busy restaurants, bars and a concert hall at locations around Paris on Friday evening, killing dozens of people in what a shaken French President described as an unprecedented terrorist attack.
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French President Francois Hollande is escorted out of the Stade de France by his security team before the end of the France v Germany International Friendly match on November 13, 2015 in Paris, France.
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Security forces signal journalists to move back as they secure the area near the Bataclan concert hall following fatal shootings in Paris, France, November 13, 2015.
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More than 10.7 million tweets were posted about Paris between Friday and Saturday, according to Topsy. While platforms like Twitter allow users to share and receive information from peers, the content can be misleading or completely false. (Tweet This)

When using social media following a breaking news event, be vigilant and pay attention to who is providing the information. More than a few misleading posts began circulating in the aftermath of the Paris attacks, which have now been debunked by various sources.

1. Not Afraid photo is from January

Images circulating on social media depicting Parisians flooding the streets with signs reading "not afraid" are from a series of marches in January following the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

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Large public gatherings and vigils are currently being discouraged by Parisian officials.

2. Canadian man's selfie Photoshopped

A Canadian Sikh's bathroom selfie has gone viral after someone Photoshopped the image and posted it on social media claiming that he was one of the terrorists behind the attacks in Paris.

Veerender Jubbal, the man reportedly behind the hashtag #StopGamerGate2014, posted a selfie in August wearing a plaid shirt and turban with his iPad.

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The image was altered so that it appeared that Jubbal was holding a Quran and wearing a suicide bomb vest.

However, social media users and Jubbal himself were quick to point out that the image had been doctored.

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3. Uber did not surge prices

Uber received harsh criticism on social media on Friday when an automated mobile message informed app users that the service had been inundated with requests and cautioned Parisians not to travel unless absolutely necessary.

Screen captures of the message and rumors began circulating on Twitter accusing the ride-sharing company of suspending services and hiking prices due to demand.

Uber denied both claims via Twitter.

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"Our hearts go out to everyone in France after these horrific terrorist attacks," a spokeswoman told CNBC.

Several Twitter users reported that Uber drivers in Paris were offering free rides to passengers.

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4. The Eiffel Tower darkens

Following the events in France's capital, a slew of social media posts incorrectly described the lights of the Eiffel Tower turning off as a sign of solidarity with the victims of the attacks.

However, the monument remains lit every evening until 1 a.m., when it shuts off until then next night, according to the Eiffel Tower's official website.

In 2013, a new light pollution decree ordered businesses to switch off interior lights one hour after closing and all exterior lights must be switched off between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m. The decree was meant to decrease light pollution and save the annual electricity consumption of 750,000 households.

The Eiffel Tower did dim its lights in January following the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Posts that depict the monument going dark for the events of Nov. 13 are not correct.

5. This is not the Bataclan

An image supposedly depicting the garage-rock band Eagles of Death Metal preforming at the Bataclan just before the attack is not accurate.

The image is of the band, however it was taken from a concert in Dublin three days before the group performed in Paris.

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6. Donald Trump on French gun control

Donald Trump is known for his inflammatory remarks on Twitter. This time around, however, the Republican presidential candidate did not comment on France's attack, despite an outpouring of posts to the contrary.

Here's his tweet following the attack in Paris:

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However, he did post about it in January following the Charlie Hebdo shootings.

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French ambassador Gerard Araud was unaware that the tweet had been posted almost a year ago and responded via the social media platform.

"This message is repugnant in its lack of any human decency. Vulture," Araud tweeted. He has since deleted his post criticizing the businessman.

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7. The Empire State Building's colored lights

Photographs of the Empire State Building lit up with red, white and blue lights do not depict the building on Nov. 13 honoring Paris. Instead, those images are from the Veteran's Day lighting on Nov. 11.

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The Empire State Building's official website documents every lighting in the past year, as well as what colors where used and for what occasion.

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Instead of a lighting, the building went dark at 10 p.m. on Friday. Other buildings in the United States and across the globe did change colors in honor of Paris.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed One Trade Center to light up its spire blue, white and red.

"We stand in solemn solidarity with the people of France, just as they have done for us in our own times of tragedy," he said in a statement.

San Francisco City Hall, the Omni Hotel in Dallas and Toronto's CN Tower were also illuminated in the colors of the French flag, according to an NBC affliate.

The Sydney Opera House in Australia also honored France.

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8. Photo of German "solidarity" march

While there was an outpouring of support after the Paris attacks, unfortunately, this image of a German march is not one of them.

Social media users circulated a cropped photograph supposedly depicting a parade of Germans flooding the streets and chanting a variant of "Germany stands with France."

Uber Tweet

The image is actually from an anti-immigration march coordinated by PEGIDA, a political movement that calls for more restrictive immigration rules.

German publication Bild reported on the march in January and published the full photograph which includes PEGIDA banners and protest signs.

9. No, this isn't Banksy

Another image making the rounds on social media is one of a painting purportedly done by infamous street artist Banksy that combines the Eiffel Tower and a peace sign.

The real artist is Jean Jullien, a French graphic designer.

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Confusion arose on Twitter when a fan account called @therealbanksy tweeted out Jullien's photo. Despite the accounts profile stating that it is a "fan account" and "we own nothing shared" Banksy was assumed to be the artist.