Yet another scar adorns the face of photojournalism, as another dubiously entitled ‘photojournalist’ has lent unfortunate credence to accusations of ‘fake news.’ Most scandals have involved staging or Photoshopping, but this one takes things a step further. Brazilian (presumably) con-artist “Eduardo Martins,” since revealed to be an alias, had been stealing other photographer’s work, flipping it horizontally to avert automated detection, and selling said purloined photographs to major news outlets.
— Hindustan Times (@htTweets) September 6, 2017
“Martins,” whoever he may be in actuality, devised an elaborate hoax, inventing a sad story of childhood cancer and stealing a British surfer’s social media photographs to flesh out an identity. With these photos and his stolen war images, he gained an Instagram following of 120,000 with prominent followers and had stolen work published by Al Jazeera, the BBC, and The Wall Street Journal, to name a few. He had the internet utterly duped until it was realized that no one who was verifiably shooting in the areas he was supposedly sending images from had ever heard of the man.
Upon this discovery, war photographer and Waves columnist, Fernando Costa Netto, who thought of him as friend a and even published an article in praise of Martins contacted him for clarification and received a message that read:
“I’m in Australia. I’ve made the decision to spend a year in a van. I’ll delete everything online, including internet. I want to be in peace, we’ll see each other when I get back. For anything, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. A big hug. I’m going to delete the zap. God be with you. A hug.”
With this odd confirmation of suspicions, Netto broke the story on Waves.
Then, all social media appearances of Eduardo Martins vanished. But, the story doesn’t end there. Actual Brazilian photographer saw Netto’s story and looked into some of the photos that had been credited to Eduardo Martins and noticed something was off – he saw instances where things looked backward, for example, a camera in a shot that had the shutter button on the wrong side. He flipped the images and did a reverse image search and discovered that many were actually taken by Turkey-based American photographer Daniel C. Britt.
Just got a statement from Daniel C. Britt, the real photographer behind some of the pictures that ‘Eduardo Martins’ stole and modified. pic.twitter.com/RTyhdf9PNc
— Gianluca Mezzofiore (@GianlucaMezzo) September 5, 2017
A convoluted tale indeed. It’s always sad when photojournalism’s credibility is undermined and unfortunately is becoming a common occurrence.
The photos have since been deleted by the news outlets who had been deceived.