Fool Me Once on Social Media…

If you don’t know by now that you should always Google the subject matter of a meme before re-posting it, then you are either (a) too young to use a computer yet, or (b) hopeless. That said, it is now becoming clear that you shouldn’t always trust a debunking of a meme.

A series of images making their way around the web show huge numbers of people piling onto some rusty, rickety ships. The description often accompanying the image suggests that these are Syrian (or Libyan) refugees headed for Europe, with sinister suggestions for what that implies…

Via Ahmet Aykac / Facebook

Via Ahmet Aykac / Facebook

Via Ahmet Aykac / Facebook

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that these are not Syrian refugees trying to escape en masse to Europe. So who are they?

I first saw these pictures in a Facebook post (h/t Jason) by someone named Ahmet Aykac, who explains:

These aren’t Syrians; they are Europeans trying to get to North Africa during the world war… So next time you think of closing the borders you might want to check with your grandparents…

That’s an interesting explanation, but something still didn’t quite seem right… I did some Googling, and found the same caption on a picture on Imgur. A commenter noted that the picture is not from World War II, but actually from 1991. Another Imgur album from almost a year ago (i.e. before the current refugee crisis) shows the same pictures.

So now we have an initial incorrect use of these photos, and an incorrect (albeit well-intentioned, perhaps) rebuttal. These are not Syrian refugees going to Europe, nor are they European refugees escaping from Europe. These are European refugees going to a different part of Europe. Specifically, these are Albanians fleeing Albania for Italy during the collapse of Albania’s communist regime in 1991.

I wish I understood why people feel the need to make sh!t up. Be wary, kids.


23 thoughts on “Fool Me Once on Social Media…

  1. Hello dear friend, i found these pictures also in facebook, but i think Albanian are from europe, so they are european. am i incorrect?


  2. This photo is indeed from the Albanian refugee crisis of 1991. It is sometimes referred to as the “Vlora Incident” because of the ship’s name.

  3. You are right, mate, the internet is full of crap. It would also be a little weird that someone took the time to colour some black and white pictures from the II WW leaving no trace of the original black and white ones.
    I am Italian and those pictures are very familiar to me. I remember the news reporting those same images of Albanians disembarking on the southern coasts of Italy. I was about 13 at that time.

  4. Hi, I agree with you. This picture with comments is such a lie. At the moment I try to discuss with Facebook and I hope they will delete this. I’m surprised because people can use Facebook but they can’t use Google 🙂

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  6. these are albanians emigrating to europe after comunism in the 90′ from durres. the photos are realised from famous albanian photographer gani xhengo and should not be misused like this. make some proper search before posting.

  7. Actually we did really have European refugees in Tunisia in the past (in other North African countries I assume), mainly Russians and Italian, and many have stayed here.

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  9. So one person taking the image and dishonestly labelling it in order to advance their political agenda is “sinister”, but the next person taking the same image from them and dishonestly labelling it in order to advance their own, different, political agenda is “well-intentioned”.

    Got it.

    • yes, that’s how intentions work.

      someone feeding your diabetic kid a candy because he is hungry is well inentioned even if the does the kid a lot of harm

    • They didnt though, Europe had plenty of nations without a war, particularly Portugal which most kings fled to, North Africa was the last place they fled to

  10. What do you call those Europeans whose religion happened to be Jews not Muslims and went to Arabic PALESTINE and stole their land?? Not only so now the Indegionous people themselves are being wiped out and murdered by these Zionist Europeans!!!

  11. Thank you so much for researching another Facebook lie.
    It pissed me off so much when people repost and do not research.
    I seen this post on 5th June. And did an internet search by typing in… Lots of people on a green ship..
    And I came up with the same answer as you.
    It was placed on FB because the news said that UK were closing their boarders ..
    Again..thank you for your time. We need people like you.
    Keep the good work up..

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