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Viral photo of refugees on cargo ship is from 2001

A viral TikTok video that was reposted to Facebook tries to pass off a photo of refugees rescued by a cargo ship in 2001 as a cargo ship off the coast of the United States in 2021. Let’s take a look at the facts.

A Facebook post of a photo showing several dozen people on the deck of what appears to be a cargo ship. There is a stack of shipping containers next to them. The words on the image read, “Drone Footage of those cargo containers on West Coast and East Coast surely the same. Still think Everything is fine?” The News Literacy Project has added two labels, one that says “false context” and another that says “rescued refugees at sea in 2001.”
This photo is not from “drone footage” of a cargo ship off the coast of the United States in 2021.
It’s a photo of the MV Tampa, a Norwegian cargo ship that rescued a group of mostly Afghan refugees in the Indian Ocean in August 2001.

NewsLit takeaway

Conspiracy theorists often come up with convoluted ways to incorporate current events into their baseless hypotheses about the world, and the 2021 container ship crisis is no exception. Baseless claims that the gridlock at U.S. ports is a staged event to achieve political goals — such as a “communist plot” to cripple the American economy or use shipping containers as some kind of  “Trojan horse” — have circulated online in recent weeks. Rumors attempting to connect cargo ships and incidents in ports to nefarious, conspiratorial activities have a history, especially among adherents of the QAnon belief system.

Related: “Fact check: Supply chain delays not related to COVID-19 vaccine mandates”(Daniel Funke, USA Today).

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