A series of photographs showing what appears to be two men staging a news event during a street protest in Hong Kong has been shared on multiple social media platforms since last week.
In the pictures, a man is seen as imitating a journalist in full protective gear and a yellow “press” vest. He is lying still on the ground with a bloodstain and what looks like a semi-automatic firearm while another man takes photos of him.
A Twitter post that shared the photos claims, “If you read some tweet about a journalist died in HK, it is staged as photo attached,” which had more than 1,200 retweets and 2,100 likes. The same images were shared on Facebook and Weibo; together, they had hundreds of shares and comments.
Those claims are misleading. The man with the camera in these photographs is Tommy Fung, a well-known artist who posts photoshopped artwork in his Instagram series @SurrealHK. The man pretending to be a journalist is Albert Ozi, a photographer based in Hong Kong.
The high-resolution image makes it clear that the object that looks like an assault rifle is made of carefully constructed camera gears and a tripod.
“I think my artwork speaks for itself,” Fung told Annie Lab.
He said he knew someone would accuse him of creating “fake news” but it was one of the points of the artwork. It would prove people would “simply say anything without fact-checking,” he said.
All of his social media posts contain hashtags such as #photoshop, #photomanipulation, #art along with more political messages like #fightforfreedom.