Aussie Teenager Fearful For His Life After Newspaper Misidentifies Him As A Terrorist With Wrong Facebook Photo

from the like? dept

Traditional newspapers: they're the best. In stark contrast with so-called "new media" on the internet, they're the professionals. They write the important stories, give us unbiased reports on all the things, and, most importantly, they have a monopoly on fact-checking. Except, of course, when they don't. Take the case of one young Australian, Abu Bakar Alam, who was incorrectly identified on the front page of The Age in the land down under as a terrorist.

Abu Bakar Alam, 19, said he was afraid to leave his home and was “not really OK” after being wrongly pictured on the front pages of The Age and Sydney Morning Herald in their coverage of the Endeavour Hills police shooting... Mr Alam said the family saw his son’s picture on social media labelled by the newspaper as Numan Haider, the terror suspect, 18, shot dead by police after stabbing two officers on Tuesday.

“Someone called me and said ‘What happened to your son?’ I said, ‘My son is alive, who said my son is a terrorist?’” Mr Alam said.
The mistake, which the paper has since publicly apologized for, was apparently an instance of editors pulling down Facebook photos and getting them confused. Because, pshh, all them brown-skinned folks look alike, am I right? Well, no, I'm not right, and an industry that touts itself as the fact-checking gurus of the world probably needs to do better than simply apologizing for misidentifying a young man as a terrorist. There are, after all, larger implications of such a mistake.
“I’m gutted,” the teenager told 3AW. “This is going to take a while, but we’re going to sit down as a family and work out what’s going to be the best for us. And for my future. This is not something small. This is going to affect my future as well.”
You'd hope that isn't the case, of course, but I'm not sure he's wrong. You'd hate to find out that anyone in Australia acted on this bad information and did something to threaten Alam as a result of a newspaper blasting his picture on their front page.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2014 @ 1:32pm

    So is the newspaper liable under Australia's new natsec law for communicating about something terrorism related?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2014 @ 1:47pm

    They reported he was dead, right? What exactly is he afraid of then, that people going to think he's a zombie terrorist?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      orbitalinsertion (profile), 25 Sep 2014 @ 3:44pm

      Re:

      Never underestimate the stupidity and bigotry of human beings. Of course they could see the picture in the paper and believe the image is of a legitimate terror suspect, yet think the gov covered something up by claiming he was was shot dead while in fact he is roaming the streets.

      Of course, being just a little too brown while sporting certain features, styles, or beliefs will net you ZOMG MUZLAM TERRIZT anyway from some types.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ACasey (profile), 25 Sep 2014 @ 1:53pm

    Wow, legacy journalism has been really bad lately. The New York Times using "he said, she said"; no fact-checking on the whole guy invented e-mail thing...

    What's next? TMZ being cited as a source in a MSNBC article?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2014 @ 1:56pm

    Even if they got the RIGHT Facebook profile, there's no guarantee that a profile photo actually shows the person named in the profile.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2014 @ 2:12pm

    would not be surprised if the police did not show up to take him in for questioning. Under the auspicions of being labeled a terrorist. Since only terrorists are labeled terrorists if we go by their usual backwards thinking.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2014 @ 2:16pm

    His problems are only starting. Wait until he gets near an airplane or some other object the American Empire seems afraid of.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2014 @ 2:46pm

    On the other hand...

    At least his name is not Achmed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2014 @ 7:23pm

    Sounds like a libel suit waiting to happen. Even with the retraction this sounds precisely the kind of thing that they could cite damages for.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Sep 2014 @ 7:57am

    "was apparently an instance of editors pulling down Facebook photos and getting them confused"

    I wonder what his FB privacy settings were.
    If idiots in the media can do this, who else can?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Sep 2014 @ 8:56am

    At least they're sorry; that makes everything better...

    ...not.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    McGehee (profile), 26 Sep 2014 @ 5:43pm

    Establishment media

    Layers and layers of fact-checkers and editors.

    Layers and layers, I tell you!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Sep 2014 @ 1:54am

    Instead of facebook asking us to tag our friends on every god-damnd picture we see, maybe we could do tag-a-terrorist. Just pop up "is this person a terrorist" everytime the algorithm spots a face. Would be the best thing for national security -- which, btw, I didn't realize they had in Australia.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2014 @ 1:49am

    Do not worry my friend, be "contempt" in knowing you are a collateral damage, and that your sacrafice will serv youre countries government well in its future endeavours

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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