'Verified' Users on X Falsely Claim Video of Hospitalized Palestinian Man and Mother Is 'Fake'

A video of an injured Palestinian man in a hospital with a head bandage and possibly his mother was passed around on X with false captions that claimed it was fake and had crisis actors in so-called Pallywood.
Loay Ayyoub/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The protracted, often bloody Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which broke out into hot war on Oct. 7, 2023, when the militant Palestinian group Hamas launched a deadly attack on Israel and Israel retaliated by bombarding the Gaza Strip, dates back to the early 20th century when British authorities facilitated the mass immigration of Jews to Palestine, and ultimately the forcible displacement of Palestinian Arabs by Zionist militias, to establish a Jewish homeland there. In the current Israel-Hamas war, more than 10,000 civilians, the vast majority of them Palestinians, have been killed since Oct. 7. The internet is rife with war-related misinformation, which Snopes, as always, is dedicated to countering with facts and context. You can help. Read our latest fact checks about the ongoing conflict. Submit questionable rumors you’ve encountered. Become a Snopes Member to support our work. We welcome your participation and feedback.

On Nov. 12, 2023, multiple "verified" users on X with blue checkmarks next to their handles shared false captions that claimed a video of a hospitalized Palestinian man with a bandage on his head while his mother stood by his bedside was "fake," and that it showed "crisis actors" in "Pallywood," an apparent joke on the words Palestine and Hollywood.

More than 24 hours after the posts had been available, none of X's sometimes-contextual Community Notes were visible underneath the false claims.

Amid the rising tolls of deaths and injuries in Gaza – which followed Hamas' surprise attack in Israel on Oct. 7 – the false captions about the video were displayed to millions of users and with no apparent corrective measures put forth by X.

For example, "verified" X user @Imamofpeace falsely claimed, "This is gold. A Palestinian mother sees images online showing her son injured. She races to the hospital only to find it all fake. He is fine, it’s just an act mommy. It’s called Pallywood."

Another "verified" user named @amjadt25 also falsely claimed that the injured man had "no bandages," "fake blood" and "zero injuries."

In a third example of how false information was spreading about the video, "verified" user @dudi_dolev wrote in Hebrew the misleading caption, "Mom, everything is fine. It's just for the camera."

So that readers can see the video, here's a post from the @QudsNen account that displays the clip without the false claims:

As BBC Verify journalist Shayan Sardarizadeh reported on X, the video was originally captured by Gaza City journalist Mohmmed Awad. Awad posted it to his stories on Instagram either on or just before Nov. 12. Sardarizadeh posted screenshots of Awad's stories, which had expired by the time we attempted to look for them. (Unlike normal posts, stories on Instagram are only visible on a user's profile for 24 hours, unless they're added to the platform's highlights feature.)

Fact-checkers from the India-based independent publisher BoomLive.in reported that they were able to save a longer version of the video of the unidentified man being brought inside Nasser Hospital in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis. They were able to reach Awad and confirmed with him that he had captured the video. The date of the video was unclear but appeared to have been recorded either on or just prior to Nov. 12.

BoomLive.in also reported that Awad had told their journalists of the video, "This young man was injured by shrapnel in the head, but in order to reassure his mother, he removed the medical cover." The people in the video were also speaking to reassure the man's mother that he would be ok, according to the reporting. We reached out to Awad to ask for more details and will update this story if we receive a response.

Other videos posted on Awad's Instagram account were extremely graphic. His videos recorded in Gaza showed injured and crying young children at Nasser Hospital, a doctor attempting to revive a child before declaring him to be dead, emergency workers who had apparently been the victim of an airstrike while driving, Palestinian children in body bags and many other similar clips.

While journalists including Awad continue to report the latest developments including news, photos and videos from the war, the case of the video featured in this fact check shows how such content can be quickly twisted and served up with false narratives to millions of users.

The "verified" accounts that promoted the false information about Awad's video to millions of feeds on X displayed blue checkmarks, a label that previously had been a potential sign of authenticity and trust.

Unlike earlier days of Twitter, before Elon Musk purchased the platform for $44 billion, those "verified" blue checkmarks can now be purchased for small fee in one of the platform's premium plans.

"While the internet makes information accessible, not all of it is trustworthy," wrote Hailey Moon for Boston University's BU Today on Nov. 8:

Misinformation and disinformation, inevitable by-products of our digital age, often complicate this mission. Recent developments in X (the social media platform formerly known as Twitter) encourage perpetuating false narratives. The blue “verified” check status can now be bought via a subscription plan and doesn’t mean the person is who they claim to be. Previously, the blue check mark was proof of authenticated users. The news rating company NewsGuard recently determined that 74 percent of accounts that promoted misinformation on the Israel-Hamas war on X were verified accounts, and that those posts had gathered approximately 100 million views a week, globally. This underscores the fact that while the internet makes information accessible, not all of it is trustworthy.


About X Premium. https://help.twitter.com/en/using-x/x-premium.

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