PetaPixel

Media Publishes Wrong Facebook Photo in Wake of Tragic Shooting

Earlier today, unimaginable tragedy struck the town of Newtown, Connecticut as 20 children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School were gunned down by a man we now know to be 20-year-old Adam Lanza.

As details poured in over the course of the day, Lanza — who took his own life at the scene — was mistakenly identified by police as Ryan, his older brother. Because of this mistake, news organizations nationwide began searching for pictures of a Ryan Lanza matching the description of the gunman, subsequently stumbling upon and disseminating the wrong picture for several hours.

Ryan and his friends immediately began taking to online social networks to explain the mixup and defend Ryan from the accusations:

Many of the initial reports had published the photograph with a question to the effect of, “Is this a photograph of the shooter?” When it turned out not to be, they simply published updates correcting their mistake, but by then millions of people had seen the face of the wrong Lanza and were associating him with the heinous crime.

Earlier today we shared how fake or incorrect photos can affect our perception of reality. Ryan — who has been taken into custody for questioning — may or may not be connected with the tragedy, but for the thousands who saw and shared the photo, their minds may leave them no choice but to remember his face in a negative light from here on out.

(via Poynter)


P.S. The mistake is reminiscent of the Iranian protestor mixup last month.


 
  • eraserhead12

    I think I read reports that the shooter was carrying his brother’s ID, thus the mixup–but we should always take initial news reports with a grain of salt.

    Is that a random Ryan Lanza, or the brother of the shooter? What an unfortunate mixup to add on to his grief.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nathanblaney Nathan Blaney

    His brother just killed all those people including his mother and he’s got time to post on facebook? You’d think an email blast to friends might be the way to go, not a “screw you, CNN” fb post.

  • http://www.bobcooleyphoto.com/ bob cooley

    Sorry PetaPixel, this isn’t really about photography. I think it’s kind of shameful that you feel the need to jump on this tragic story w/ a thinly veiled connection to our medium.

    it may drum up some hits to the site, but I lost some respect for you today…

  • A. A.

    I see a multi million dollar law suite here :-)

  • Scyph

    No, the person that news outlets publicized is completely unrelated to the shooter.

  • Mansgame

    Not surprising that it was on Fox “News” first.

  • http://twitter.com/ShootTheSound Peter Neill

    seriously? ! . it is relevant to photography and the side effect of been able to find anyone online…. Plus ANY posts online that help correct this HORRENDOUS mis-identification are necessary. Do you think the guy in the photo would object to this post?? Come on and lighten up

  • http://www.facebook.com/nathanblaney Nathan Blaney

    Are you sure? I’m not doubting you, but his FB page (which I took screenshots of this morning) listed his hometown as Newtown, CT. Seems like a crazy coincidence then.

  • jessica

    it only takes two seconds to post to facebook if you use a smart phone….

  • Bean

    It wasn’t. It was on CNN first. *eyeroll*

  • http://www.facebook.com/nathanblaney Nathan Blaney
  • http://www.bobcooleyphoto.com/ bob cooley

    The story is mistaken identity, it has nothing to do with the craft, culture or medium of photography. Just because the wrong picture was used by news outlets (due to the mistaken identity) doesn’t make the story about the photographic medium, or photography culture. The photographic connection (at best) is a byproduct of sloppy reporting, and its a crappy way to drum up traffic.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nathanblaney Nathan Blaney

    Maybe its an generational difference thing, but I’m pretty sure that if my brother slaughtered my mother and a class full of kids, facebook wouldn’t be a priority for me – even if I was angry about being mistaken. An email to friends seems like what I’d do – but even then, you’d think grief might take over. Everyone’s different though, I suppose.

  • fahrertuer

    Is it just me or is there really a steep decline in the quality and ethics departments of petapixel posts?

    This is the third post in a damned short time that seems to exploit the death of humans to get site viewes for ad revenue.

  • http://www.felipeyang.com Felipe Yang

    Not really, the craft of photography involves selling photos to news agencies such as the ones mentioned. The poor fact checking of these news agencies is relevant to photographers.

  • http://www.bobcooleyphoto.com/ bob cooley

    You’re right it does, but this has nothing to do with selling images to news agencies. No one sold this image – they took it from a Facebook page.

  • wickerprints

    I should hope that if you were falsely accused of murder and suddenly had EVERYONE YOU KNOW going totally apes**t on you, you’d take the time to set the record straight, even in the midst of all the tragedy. It probably took less time for him to send that one post than it took for you to type out your judgmental screed. I don’t blame him for being pretty angry at the media right now.

  • http://www.felipeyang.com Felipe Yang

    It has to do with news agencies who deal with photographers. It involves a photograph from Facebook, it has everything to do with photography even if you don’t like the subject.

  • manwithacamera

    Why not? It is a photography blog. No wrong to post news about photography and photos. By blaming photographers and blogs, we cant abolish crime :)

  • Alan

    That’s exactly what I thought as soon as I read the post title. I even imagined them googling keywords like “photography murder” to get that.

  • TSY87

    it was CNN that first posted it… hence the image the in article showing his status “F*** you CNN…”

  • fuzzywuzzy

    Somebody’s about to get very rich…

  • http://www.facebook.com/Hazyskyline Lindsey Best

    And then PetaPixel posts his photo three more times in this story… Great journalism. Pretty sure the point of this article could have been EASILY made without the hypocrisy.

  • Samuel

    Ethics in photography and photojournalism is equally as important if not more than the latest releases from nikon, this is a story about the incorrect use of a photo by international news agency that is seriously defaming an as yet innocent man who is likely to face HUGE negative consequences because of the failure of fact checkers and photo editors. This isnt a cheap ploy to get ad clicks its a vital post both clearing his name and illustrating the need of much more stringent checking before publishing.

  • eraserhead12

    he clearly has a mobile phone, and likely received a never-ending stream of notifications from fb on it–most of them being death threats. so is two seconds REAAAAAAAAALLY so terrible in your eyes?

    I’m confused why you’d suggest email–not only is it an antiquated means of communicating with friends, you couldn’t address your entire audience, and it wouldn’t tackle the issue of being publicly harassed and threatened.

  • Dave

    Also having just lost his mother. This guy is at ground zero for anguish.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nathanblaney Nathan Blaney

    You’re totally misreading my points. I use facebook a ton so there’s no problem with THAT. Its the communicating with friends and family about something so important that seems to warrant something more formal (?) than an outburst on a non-public facebook page. And again, you’d think he’d be more involved with the grief at losing his brother and mother and the horrible crime, but between the fb post and his completely blank stare on tv, he just seems cold and emotionless. Very weird to me, and I can’t relate at all.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nathanblaney Nathan Blaney

    You’re far too worked up about this. Also, stick by your original post please – don’t edit. Is there any actual evidence of threats against him? I haven’t heard or seen that anywhere.

  • eraserhead12

    haha I got too worked up about this? look at you, criticizing someone and calling him a sociopath.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nathanblaney Nathan Blaney

    Oh man, you’re one of “those” people. Got it. Troll elsewhere, please.

  • eraserhead12

    Reverting to troll comments? Grow up and stop saying how you’d do things differently if your family was slaughtered. “oh man please, those people”

  • http://www.facebook.com/nathanblaney Nathan Blaney

    Grow up? I’m fairly certain I’m older, wiser and more experienced than you, mr. troll. Also, I’m not hiding behind a “eraserhead12″.

  • http://www.facebook.com/torterra.legend Mauricio Chichizola

    It´s a situation where the names of the people murdered is not revealed. So if you start receiving messages of people insulting you and being stalked by millions on fb, you first google the new and post something (I imagine Ryan must be very affected due to his mother loss, once he knew the new).

  • harumph

    It’s just a lot of horror to swallow in one day.

  • Tracy

    Shame on you for posting his photo several more times in this horrible article. Maybe he’ll want to sue you, too.

  • George Wallace

    Stick to actual photography articles PetaPixel, leave the news to the ‘professionals’, at least the ones who can get the right person first time around that is.

  • http://www.facebook.com/corinne.standish Corinne Standish

    This is totally apropos to a photography blog. It involves a photograph, dissemination of a photograph, headlines all over the country; why would this not be of interest to photographers……

  • studio 17b

    An email blast requires a rationally thinking mind. Which, if you were being accused by millions of people of mass murder, you probably wouldn’t be in. Besides, I post FB status via a handphone all the time. It’s a LOT faster than email, much less an email blast.

  • Oskar?

    Then why do you read and comment it? You only make it more valuable.

  • michaelp42

    A valid photography/media related post. Keep up the good work PP.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Hazyskyline Lindsey Best

    Sure, the article has relevance, however that relevance could have been made without furthering the problem in which they’re writing about.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nathanblaney Nathan Blaney

    You have absolutely no idea what I’ve seen and observed.

  • wickerprints

    One more thing. You question whether “he’s got time” to post on facebook, yet you suggest that instead of simply posting something on his wall, that he “send out an email blast to friends.” Which do you think takes less time, and addresses the same audience that might have come to the wrong conclusion? A mass email would involve opening up one’s entire address book and clicking on every single person in it. It also wouldn’t reach those people who do NOT know who he is.

    You very clearly just want to accuse this guy of being callous because you’ve decided that, despite all the horror that happened DIRECTLY TO HIS FAMILY (his mother is dead, his brother killed a bunch of kids, his father left back in 2008), you’ve deemed that his reaction is not sufficiently tearful…because he took a few moments out of the chaos to clear the record and express his anger at a completely avoidable mistake that occurred because journalistic standards have declined in today’s media.

    He was taken into custody and is cooperating with authorities. What do YOU know of how he is reacting the whole time his life just got turned completely upside down? How dare you judge him.

  • wickerprints

    One more thing. You question whether “he’s got time” to post on facebook, yet you suggest that instead of simply posting something on his wall, that he “send out an email blast to friends.” Which do you think takes less time, and addresses the same audience that might have come to the wrong conclusion? A mass email would involve opening up one’s entire address book and clicking on every single person in it. It also wouldn’t reach those people who do NOT know who he is.

    You very clearly just want to accuse this guy of being callous because you’ve decided that, despite all the horror that happened DIRECTLY TO HIS FAMILY (his mother is dead, his brother killed a bunch of kids, his father left back in 2008), you’ve deemed that his reaction is not sufficiently tearful…because he took a few moments out of the chaos to clear the record and express his anger at a completely avoidable mistake that occurred because journalistic standards have declined in today’s media.

    He was taken into custody and is cooperating with authorities. What do YOU know of how he is reacting the whole time his life just got turned completely upside down? How dare you judge him.

  • Jason

    You’re far too worked up about this. Does it really matter how he communicated? Do you think he was weighing up the options thinking – well it’s a more formal occasion? I think there’s every chance he’s already got a lot on his plate as it is.

  • http://crissa.twu.net/ Crissa

    Well, we don’t know which is the wrong picture if they don’t.

  • eraserhead12

    ^ “but between the fb post and his completely blank stare on tv, he just seems cold and emotionless. Very weird to me, and I can’t relate at all.”

  • Samcornwell

    I get your sentiment with regards to hypocrisy however, personally I saw the title before the picture and quickly ascertained the whole story.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Neoracer-Xox/1037144278 Neoracer Xox

    I hope he sue’s their asses then gives the money to the victims fund. And the media is part of the problem, they glamorize these animals and so future animals know their name will be famous for many years after. STOP IT.

  • alex

    Faux News at it again…