Migrant caravan faces false accusations as it crosses Mexico


As a caravan of thousands of migrants, mainly from Honduras, makes its way through Mexico with the goal of reaching the US border, disinformation about these migrants has spread widely on social networks in the United States.

The caravan began its journey on October 12 in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, with fewer than 200 people, but many more have joined along the way.

This Facebook post below was shared more than 36,000 times as of October 23. The post claims that these photos show Mexican police officers that were beat up by the migrants.


The post seems to have been inspired by this tweet, published earlier the same day, which carries a similar message but features only the first photo. The fact-checking site Snopes found that the same image, with the same verbatim message, were published by a network of Twitter accounts.

However, none of these images show police beaten up by migrants participating in the caravan. They are old photos, taken in different contexts.

A simple reverse image search (click here to learn how to do one) shows that the main image was published by Mexican media outlets back in 2012. Articles from that time explain that the police officer was injured during a protest involving university students, not migrants.

The photo of the police officers kneeling in the street was published in 2014, and was taken during another incident involving university students in Mexico.

The photo of the police officer with a bloody nose dates back to at least 2011, and was shared in articles that also concerned clashes between Mexican police and students.


Burning flags?

Another set of images, below, is being falsely described as showing participants in the migrant caravan burning American flags.


Unsurprisingly, it’s being shared by some of the same accounts that shared the photos of the bloodied police officers.

A reverse image search shows that the main image was published by a number of Twitter accounts back in 2016. Though it is unclear where it was taken, since it dates back to at least 2016, this means it does not show the migrant caravan currently taking place.

The bottom left photo showing a piece of a burned flag was taken by a photographer for Getty Images during a protest outside the US embassy in London on September 11, 2010. It’s also one of the very first results that show up when one types “burning flag” into Google.

The bottom-right photo of a man holding up a burning flag was published back in 2016. The image was taken by a Reuters photographer, and shows protesters outside the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July 2016.

It seems this post may have been loosely inspired by the news that protesters burned an American flag in front of the US embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on October 19. The image was captured by an Associated Press (AP) photographer. The AP described the photo as showing two protesters burning the flag during a protest in favor of the migrant caravan, which on that date was hundreds of kilometres away, stuck on the Guatemala-Mexico border.