Dead Woman in Istanbul Armenian, Not Jordanian; Information in Story False, Pictures Fake

AKEED, Aya Khawaldeh

Many news websites have carried a story under the headline "Heinous Murder of Jordanian Woman in Istanbul" based on social media reports, without verifying the credibility of the information in it. This has provoked public opinion.

The false story talks about the murder of a girl from a Jordanian Christian family in the city of Istanbul. It contains fabricated information about the issue to the effect that the girl had converted to Islam and escaped from Jordan to Turkey to marry a person who proposed to her, but was rejected by her family. It turned out that the girl was Armenian, and not Jordanian.

Many of these websites committed a mistake by taking information from social media without verifying its credibility and presenting it as facts, thus provoking public opinion. Meanwhile, a number of news websites and persons took advantage of the circulation of the issue to spread hate speech between Muslims and Christians on their Facebook pages.

The fake information also caused harm to a Jordanian citizen, who was said to be the father of the girl. He was accused of attempting to murder his daughter after converting to Islam and escaping to Turkey. The information also caused harm to a Jordanian young man named Ahmad Tillawi by claiming that he had a relationship with the "Jordanian" victim. The young man denied this and confirmed that he was a friend of the Armenian girl.

The reports that included fake information were published under the following headlines:

Jordanian Who Escaped From Her Parents To Marry Dies in Turkey

Heinous Murder of Jordanian Girl in Istanbul

Jordanian Killed in Deliberate Incident After Escaping as Muslim to Turkey

After Declaring Her Islam and Escaping Her Country…Jordanian Run Over and Killed in Istanbul

Turkey: Jordanian Girl Dies in Mysterious Circumstances

Although the Jordanian Foreign Ministry denied, through the Jordanian Embassy in Ankara, that a Jordanian national had an incident there, news websites reported information contained in tweets by Ahmad Tillawi"s friends, who claimed that he was the reason behind her conversion to Islam and that he had a relationship with her. Tillawi denied this on his Facebook page, saying that the girl was Armenian, and not Jordanian.

Tillawi explained that he became friends with the girl three years ago through Facebook, having added her account that carried the name "Jasmine." He said that the girl was asking about Islam and its teachings. He later learned that she converted to Islam through her maternal aunt. He said that he was surprised at news of her death from news websites and social media.

Media outlets committed another mistake by publishing fake pictures of the girl, which turned out to be pictures of a Muslim model living in the United States. Other pictures were taken from different websites and had nothing to do with Jasmine.

The AKEED Monitor stresses the need for verifying content on social media before publishing it in implementation of Article 9 of the Press Code of Honor, which states that "the mission of journalism requires accuracy and objectivity, and its practice requires confirming the accuracy of information and news before publishing it. In this context, journalists shall observe the following:  Not publishing unconfirmed, misleading, distorted, or propagandistic information, including pictures, articles and comments. Also, a clear distinction must be made between fact and news on the one hand and commentary and opinion on the other."

Websites have also violated the standard of accuracy, which stresses the need for confirming information before publishing and circulating it and avoiding incorrect news content. Moreover, social media users must seek accuracy in reporting information, confirm news before carrying it, and show social responsibility by avoiding harming people involved in erroneous news.

The fundamental rule in handling user-generated content on social media is to contact the source directly. This is because experience has shown in many cases that the content circulating on these platforms is false.