The Three Most Viral Photos of the Amazon Fire Are Fake. Here Are Some Real Ones to Share.

Aug 27, 2019 by

Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the most prominent celebrities sharing outdated photos of the Amazon on fire.

View of one of the fires in the Amazon of Rondonia, Brazil, on August, 24 2019. Joedson Alves/Zuma

Last week, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro’s seeming indifference about wildfires in the Amazon rainforest prompted international outrage, and rightly so. But, as I previously reported, many of the photos that celebrities and politicians shared on social media to raise awareness of the fires were misleading: Some were of fires in the Amazon but were several years old, while others depicted fires in completely different locations.

Leonardo DiCaprio, for instance, has been one of the most high-profile individuals responding to the fires—pledging $5 million to aid rainforest preservation. He shared the photo below with his 34.4 million Instagram followers last week, and many other celebrities, like Jason Momoa, reposted it. But there’s a problem: The image has been on photographer Mohsin Kazmi’s online portfolio since at least December 2017, according to the Wayback Machine, and its metadata indicates it was taken in December 2015. (It’s worth pointing out that the caption for one of DiCaprio’s photosets acknowledges that the photos are from 2017.)

Two other widely shared photos were also misleading. French president Emmanuel Macron, who has pushed one of the firmest responses to the fire from an international leader, tweeted an image by photographer Loren McIntyre, who died in 2003. Soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo, whose 181 million Instagram followers make him the most popular user on the platform, shared an image shot by Lauro Alves for Getty in 2013, according to a caption accompanying the image on the Baltimore Sun‘s website.

Given how dire the situation is, it’s crucial we share real, current photos of the fire. Here are some of the most striking images that actually show the current fires in the Amazon:

A fire burns in Porto Velho, Rondonia, Brazil, on Aug. 24, 2019

Joedson Alves/Zuma

An aerial view of smoke from the fire in Porto Velho, Rondonia, Brazil, on Aug. 23, 2019

Joedson Alves/Zuma

Fires rage in the state of Tocantins, Brazil, on Aug. 17, 2019

Dida Sampaio/Zuma

Smoke engulfs the forest in Porto Velho, Brazil, on Aug. 23, 2019

Victor R. Caivano/AP

Fire near Porto Velho, Brazil, on Aug. 23, 2019 

Victor R. Caivano/AP

A burnt area of the forest in Porto Velho, Brazil, on Aug. 25, 2019

Carl de Souza/Getty

Cattle roam near a fire near Novo Progresso, Para state, Brazil, on Aug. 25, 2019 

Joao Laet/Getty

Fires in parts of the Jamari Forest Reserve, near Porto Velho, Rondonia, Brazil, on Aug. 24, 2019

Dario Oliveira/Zuma



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