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A poor image choice can derail a social media campaign

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By Benjamin Haslem

A friend shared this image (left) on Facebook yesterday as part of her efforts to fight plans to build three coal export terminals at Abbot Point in Queensland. The development will include the dredging of 3 million cubic metres of sludge, or spoil – which will be dumped in the waters of the Great Barrier Reef.

I'm not here to take sides in this debate - primarily because I'm not across all the facts.

But what piqued my interest in the above image were what appear to be skyscrapers on the horizon.

The image was originally posted on Facebook with the following text:

"This is as ugly as it gets. Dredging 40km off the Great Barrier Reef occurring NOW just to make money for coal mining. This Government stinks."

The wording implies the photograph is of the actual dredging occurring 40km off the Great Barrier Reef now.

But there is nowhere off the Great Barrier Reef that would have skyscrapers in the distance. The Reef does not extend as far south as the high-rise lined Gold Coast, on the far southern coast of Queensland. 

And Port Abbot is near Bowen in North Queensland.

So using Google's search by image function, I was able to quickly determine the photograph is from work being conducted on Palm Island in Dubai.
 
If you're going to use social media as part of your campaign for change it is crucial you be accurate and honest.

This goes for any communication effort.

If you lose credibility by posting images or making claims that are not backed up by the facts, people will quickly turn off and the people whose attitudes you are trying to change will not engage.

All the original poster of this image needed to write was: 

"This is as ugly as it gets. Dredging off the coast of Dubai. This is also what is happening now, 40km off the Great Barrier Reef, just to make money for coal mining. This Government stinks."

Nevertheless, the original post has had over 5000 shares in two days.