There have been some powerful images coming out of Venezuela over the past week. Massive anti-government demonstrations have clogged the streets of major cities, and clashes between law enforcement and protesters have resulted in injury and even death. Shocking photos of the violence and unrest have quickly disseminated under hashtags like #SOSVenezuela and #PrayforVenezuela.
But all is not what it seems. A slew of phony images has emerged since the protests began, some of which have been shared thousands of times. Though it is impossible to know the extent to which these hoaxes have fueled the conflict in Venezuela, they demonstrate that social media are fertile ground for spreading rumors and hysteria.
Of the fake photos in circulation, many are of police oppression in places like Brazil, Spain and Chile that are being passed off as images of Venezuela. Even a picture from a porn site has reportedly been used as an example of sexual violence by the police.