26 September 2023
Fact checkMisleading

Misleading: Woman posing with indigenous men is not ex-head of Shandong University

The picture shows an Indonesian travel blogger visiting a tribe in the province of Papua. It was first posted in 2007.


Posts on Twitter and Reddit in July featured a photo supposedly showing the former president of Shandong University, Fan Liming (樊丽明), posing with two indigenous men. The text in the image claimed the picture was taken in 2019.

In an apparent attempt to smear Fan, the posts also claimed the photo “could explain everything” about why “Shandong University was so keen” to accept black students while “netizens dug up the past of its president.” They have been shared over 400 times.

Four years ago, Shandong University apologized for a “buddy program” to pair international students with local study partners, which came under fire after it was perceived as a “degrading” arrangement, forcing “local female students to entertain foreign male students.”

However, the photo has nothing to do with Fan or Shandong University.

The woman in the picture is an Indonesian blogger who first posted the photo in June 2007 to show her visit to a Papuan tribe.

Image search first led to this 2008 blog post on Blogger.com with a similar photo of the same woman posing with one of the indigenous men who also appeared in the other photo.

The title of the blog entry in Bahasa Indonesia says it is about “Lani people’s arrow” in Wamena, Papua. The province of Papua is the easternmost part of Indonesia. The Lani tribe is one of the native people living there.

Further search led to an earlier version of the same photo on Flickr posted on Sept. 25, 2007, which shows the same woman in the same outfit.

Screenshot of the 2008 blog post on blogger.com

From there, Annie Lab was able to identify the woman as Suluh Pratitasari, a known travel blogger in Indonesia.

Searching her name and older blog entries of hers led to the original photo of the picture under investigation, which was posted in June 2007 on WordPress.com.

Misleading social media post (left) and the original photo first posted in June 2007 (right)

The photo contained the Indonesian caption “terjepit Koteka,” roughly translated to “pinched” or “squeezed” Koteka.

Koteka refers to the traditional genitalia covering worn by native male Papuans.

Fan was appointed president of Shandong University in July 2017, a position she held until 2022.