I spotted this image of a girl sunbathing being shared from several accounts on social media with the phrase “Bronzage bil Ashrafieh” — or “Tanning in Ashrafieh”, Ashrafieh a district of Beirut.
Knowing that it is not usual for people to do this sort of “tanning” in Lebanon, I tried to trace that image, and check if it was really taken in Beirut or not.
Where it went viral
The first thing I noticed is that the image has gone viral upon being shared from famous satirical Facebook pages, such as “Lebanese memes”.
Trying to do a reverse search for the image on Google didn’t help at all, as most of the search results I was getting was from twitter, with no credible account.
One of the things that was notable, a twitter account for the Italian embassy in Sudan @ItalyInSudan — Yes the official website was linking to that account — has tweeted this images before, with a better quality of it, with the caption “ Only in #Naples!”.
Upon asking them to mention the source or confirm the location, I got no answer from them.
— Italy in Sudan 🇮🇹 (@ItalyInSudan) May 25, 2016
Using google reverse image search
I went back to google image search, and I was looking to see if I can spot some images that has a bigger dimension that others, because usually this might, and not always, be an indicator of a more “original” photo, that could lead to the first version of the image.
The one that was massively being circulated was one with a dimension of (600 × 564).
But one of the images was (600 × 800), in other term, that dimension is usually a dimension of a photo taken with a camera, phone camera.
Prendere il sole 2.0 pic.twitter.com/vJsL90o9X1
— Willard (@StefWillard) May 23, 2016
The link sent me to a photo shared on twitter, posted on 23 May 2016, with the caption (In English) “Sunbathing 2.0”.
The interesting part was the logo, that most of the images cropped it out, “Welcome to favelas”.
Favela, according to Wikipedia, is a slum in Brazil. But searching the term “Welcome to favelas”, it took me to a facebook page with the same name.
Scrolling down the photo section, I found the image, supposedly one of the first images that went online.
The caption of the photo “ Torino. Prima tintarella” — “Torino. First suntan” and the comments were indicating that it wasn’t Portuguese, but Italian, and Torino, or Turin in English, is a city in northern Italy.
Was this page the original source of the image?
Nothing is sure, but what I am certain about is that having almost 3000 comments and 21000 shares is a bit hard for me to dig in this story much further and put more effort where I just wanted to check if it was really in Ashrafieh or not.