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The Guardian apologizes for saying Sputnik posted ‘fake’ Notre Dame PHOTO vilifying Muslims

The Guardian apologizes for saying Sputnik posted ‘fake’ Notre Dame PHOTO vilifying Muslims
The Guardian has issued a mealy-mouthed apology for accusing Russian news agency Sputnik of doctoring images in the immediate aftermath of the Notre Dame fire to perpetuate an anti-Muslim narrative online – four months later.

In an episode of Fake or for real? published on 19 April, we suggested that a photo that went viral during the Notre Dame fire had been doctored,” the Guardian wrote in an Instagram story Monday. Instagram stories only have a shelf-life of 24 hours, but thankfully screenshots of the story exist.

We have been contacted by the copyright owner of the photo, Sputnik France, and accept that it had not been doctored; we apologise for suggesting otherwise.”

The four-months late apology refers to the Guardian’s coverage of a photo from Sputnik France’s Facebook live coverage of the April 15 Notre Dame fire. 

The Guardian’s ‘Fake or for Real’ Instagram series suggested the photo was altered to depict ‘Muslims’ celebrating the fire at the world-famous cathedral. 

This particular angle appeared in various locations online, there was just one problem: Sputnik did not make any reference or speculation as to the men's background or religious beliefs. 

Sputnik France even released the full metadata relating to the image, allowing any and all ‘fact-checkers’ to see for themselves. 

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At the time, the ‘fact-checking’ community went into overdrive, including bastion of virtue, Politifact, which was forced to issue a multi-tiered retraction over the course of several weeks. 

The AFP conducted its own fact check and spoke with the lawyer for the two men pictured, who claimed that they were architecture students that were appalled by what had happened and were merely smiling after one of their faces was caught in the security cordon tape. 

Some initially stuck to their guns, claiming the image was doctored, citing various photography experts. However, eventually they all were forced into an embarrassing climbdown with the Guardian the last to admit its mistake. 

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