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30th May 2024

Here’s everything you need to know about the viral ‘All Eyes on Rafah’ image

Simon Kelly

All Eyes on Rafah explained

The image has received backlash for multiple reasons.

If you’ve been active on Instagram over the past two days, you’re sure to have noticed an ‘All Eyes on Rafah’ image plastered over everyone’s story.

The image has become massively viral, reaching just over 46 million shares at the time of writing and shared by multiple celebrities including Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul, Bridgerton star Nicola Coughlan and model Gigi Hadid.

The image, if you haven’t seen it already, shows a vast valley filled with temporary accommodation and tents, with some spelling out the “All Eyes on Rafah” message in the centre.

The image, created by an Instagram user called @chaa.my_., has now been the subject of backlash for various reasons, including accusations of AI generation, hiding the true horror of the Rafah area and sanitising the ongoing bombardment by Israeli forces.

Viral ‘All eyes on Rafah’ image backlash explained

The viral image depicts the southern Gazan city of Rafah, where a large amount of displaced Palestinians have been taking refuge.

The rise of the issue comes following an Israeli strike on the city which killed at least 45 people, mainly women, children and the elderly.

The first criticism of the image is that it is AI-generated, which has led to a number of further criticisms, mainly that it is hiding the true images of what is really going on in Rafah right now.

The Rafah in the image is an orderly, sanitised version, while in reality, Rafah is covered in smoke, flames, burnt tents and the bodies of those killed in Israel’s attacks.

There has also been questions over how the image has cut through to such a wide audience, with some suggesting it could be due to AI-generated text inside the image rather than overlayed text, which may get past keyword detection moderation.

It has been discussed that the image meets the standards set out by social media companies that have censored more graphic and realistic images in the past.

“It’s possibly circumventing some of the automated moderation on the platform, because it’s an AI-generated image and there isn’t anything in there that is massively dangerous or controversial,” Matt Navarra, a social media consultant and industry analyst, told NBC News.

The image has been compared to the viral ‘black square’ Instagram trend in 2020 following the death of George Floyd, which was criticised by some as being an empty gesture.

In response, many activists have encouraged that rather than just sharing the ‘All Eyes on Rafah’ image, social media users could also share ways to help those in peril, including links to fundraisers and infographic posts sharing more useful content around the situation.

A new image is now circulating featuring a number of body bags, containing those killed in the bombings by Israeli forces, with overlayed text saying ‘All Eyes on Rafah’.

Many have praised the new image as a much more realistic depiction of what is currently going on in Rafah and has been shared over 110 thousand times at the time of writing.

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