A picture of one boy who died has been mistakenly used to cover stories on the deaths of two other boys

29th Apr 2020

Claim

One picture of a teenage boy has been used to cover the deaths of three teenagers in three different countries

Conclusion

The screenshots of news stories are real, but some were errors that have been taken out of context. The images were not widely used in the media. The photograph is of deceased Irish teenager Conor Wilmot who died in 2017.

An image made up of screenshots of different news stories has been widely shared on Facebook, claiming that a photograph of one teenage boy has been used to illustrate news stories about three separate deceased teenagers. Some posts imply the use of the picture is a media conspiracy. Many of the pictures come with the caption: “1 boy with 3 different names died 3 different times in 3 different countries”. 

The screenshots are real, but they take a small number of errors from a few websites out of context to suggest a conspiracy. Several of the news stories in the image use the photograph correctly. There is no evidence the photograph has been more widely used across the media to illustrate anything other than stories about the boy shown in it.

The boy pictured is Conor Wilmot, an Irish teenager who died in May 2017. A report of his death in The Irish Times, which said Conor was believed to have accidentally killed himself as a result of an online game, is one of the pictures featured in the Facebook image. The Daily Mirror also reported on his death, and its story is pictured in the Facebook image too. An image of Conor also appears in a story on American news site Black America Web warning about online safety. This screenshot is also in the Facebook post. 

Also included in the Facebook image is a screenshot of a news story, which had the picture of Conor on an article about the death of 13 year-old Covid-19 victim Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, the youngest UK victim of the pandemic. No pictures of Ismail have been released since his death at the start of April.

The story is from a South African news website Independent Online (IOL). IOL’s editor Riana Howa told Full Fact that the website mistakenly used a picture of Conor on the story, which was sourced from a Facebook page purporting to raise funds for Ismail. 

“We were alerted to the error by Conor Wilmot’s mother and immediately removed the picture from articles and social media posts and apologised to her,” she said. 

“It was an error and in no way meant to cause distress to either families.”

In a Google image search of Ismail’s name, one of the first pictures that appears is one of Conor from a website called WikiTrusted under the caption ‘Who is Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab’. This is the screenshot that appears in the bottom left of the Facebook picture.

The final picture on the Facebook image claims that the picture of Conor is actually of Isaiah Gonzales. The caption next to it is written in Czech, and mentions suicide. It says the image is taken from News 4 San Antonio. 

A search of Isaiah Gonzales on News 4 San Antonio shows that he is actually a 15-year-old American boy who died by suicide in July 2017. As with Conor Wilmot, the News 4 San Antonio report ties Isiah Gonzales’ death to an online game.

A report on Czech news website Blesk about Isaiah Gonzales mistakenly includes a picture of Conor at the end of a slideshow of images of Isaiah and his family. This appears to be the website used in the Facebook image.

So while it appears that the screenshots used in this Facebook image do or have existed, several are accurate reports, and others are errors that have been taken out of context to imply something nefarious is happening.