Passengers on an American Airlines flight from Miami, Florida to Milan, Italy were subject to a nightmare ride on Sunday after their Boeing 767 hit severe turbulence and was forced to land in Canada.
The story has made news around the world, but a number of news organisations have been duped into re-publishing a video of turbulence filmed on board a different America Airlines flight in 2014.
The video appears to have been first re-shared by a Spanish Twitter user, who told reporters the video “is anonymous”, “supposedly from a passenger on the flight” so he “downloaded it”.
Other users even stepped in to point out how old the video is, but some outlets have embedded the video from the tweet and do not appear to have made any public attempts to contact the user for permission or verification.
The video has also been republished by a Mexican news portal, which one national UK news organisation has credited as the source with a full article about the footage itself.
The terrifying scenes were in fact recorded on a flight from Seoul to Dallas in December 2014 by American John Mitchell, an English teacher in Korea, who uploaded the footage to YouTube where it received “over a million” views before he removed it.
The story was widely reported at the time as many news organisations scraped the video for their own use, complete with pre-roll advertising, and the Weather Channel made a documentary featuring Mitchell about the traumatic flight.
“I posted [the video] on Facebook for friends and family then got on a flight home,” Mitchell told First Draft via email. “Fourteen hours later, it had gone viral and I had hundreds of emails from people I didn’t know. People on the internet can say some nasty things.
“I deleted the video that day but once it is out there you lose control of it. I did give permission to CNN and Fox to use it and the Weather Channel did pay me to make a TV show about it. It was a strange few days.”
Mitchell praised Fox News and CNN as “very diligent” in seeking permission and crediting him as the source but sees the culture across the media of using such footage as trying to “get it out first and [not] worry about the mistakes. Get as many people as you can to read something. People are going to believe what they want to believe regardless.
“Getting it first is more important then getting it right. And people will take your property – in this case my video – and use it because most likely there are no consequences.”
First Draft has informed the news outlets in question of their use of old footage and so far one has removed the embedded video.
Check out the First Draft News page on verification reads and resources for more information on using newsworthy imagery rom social media.
UPDATE: Three of the organisations contacted have now removed the video, including two in the screenshot above.