Boracay or not? Tracing Mocha Uson’s post showing a dirty beach

April 26, 2018 - 11:45 AM
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Policemen collect trash in the waters off the beach at the holiday island of Boracay during the first day of a temporary closure for tourists, in Philippines April 26, 2018. (Reuters/Erik De Castro)

PCOO Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson is once again under fire for sharing a website link on her Facebook page “MOCHA USON BLOG” that misuses a picture taken from the Smithsonian Institution.

Uson shared a link to a website called Good News Network Philippines, where an article about the Boracay cleanup was published on April 23, 2018.

They used a picture that was discovered to be taken from Smithsonian’s article, where the latter credited it to Sandy Bro of iStock Photo.

Smithsonian used the photo for its article titled “The Ocean’s Great Garbage Patches Might Have Exit Doors” published on Aug. 4, 2016.

The article tackled the issue of garbage in the ocean but it did not specify whether the picture was taken in Boracay or not.

Good News Philippines did not credit the picture in its article and Facebook link.

Mocha’s not the only one 

When Facebook page “Juan Nationalist” denounced Uson and added a link where the exact picture was seen, people slammed the latter for sharing another misleading link.

However, Uson was quick to defend herself. She shared a screenshot of an article from Business Mirror, where the same picture was used. The article was titled “DENR lays out plan to save Boracay.”

Business Mirror captioned it as “In Photo: This March 22, 2012, file photo shows a polluted Bulabog beach on Boracay island.”

Uson called out her critics and stated that there were no complaints when Business Mirror used it for their article.

She wrote, “Galing na nga sa media ‘yan, sasabihin niyo pa FAKE NEWS. Tsk tsk tsk.”

She added that the origin of the picture is not the subject she initially wanted to talk about when she shared Good News Network Philippines’ link.

She said she wanted to focus on the polluted situation of Boracay and what drove the government to clean it.

The photo, zoomed in 

In the comments section of Uson’s post, a user shared a link to the iStock Photo where the picture was uploaded and used by Smithsonian.

iStock Photo is a stock photography provider run by Getty Images storing various user-generated stock photos, vectors, illustrations and video clips.

The picture that Smithsonian used was uploaded by user SandyBro on Dec. 17, 2013.

It was captioned with, “Boracay Island, Philippines, 22 March 2012—a polluted Bulabog beach on Boracay Island, Philippines. Few small boats and the beach in the background.”

In 2016, Smithsonian used it for its article and credited iStock Photo.

This year, Business Mirror and Good News Network Philippines used the exact picture for their recent articles about Boracay. However, the latter did not properly give credit to the photographer nor captioned the picture to give it context.

Meanwhile, recent pictures and a clip of Bulabog beach show that it is unlike the situation Good News Network Philippines have depicted it to be.

A quick scroll of Uson’s Facebook page shows that she regularly shares links from Good News Network Philippines. The site appears to publish information from the government as well as reports in support of its policies, does not disclose in an “about us” page its mission, management and ownership.