A picture may be worth a thousand words, but when accompanied by the 140 characters of a Twitter post all hell can break loose

The danger of believing the stories behind photos posted on the popular micro-blogging site has once again been thrown into the spotlight.

With long-promised Government austerity measures poised to strike, an unseemly photo depicting a large supply of Moët & Chandon champagne purportedly being delivered to Number 11 Downing Street appeared on Twitter – hours after the Conservatives swept to victory in the general election.

austerity champagne tweetThough genuine, the image is not what it is purported to represent.

Far from it. It was actually taken nearly 11 years ago.

But such insignificant details didn’t stop it spreading like news of a free champagne party via social media.

In fact, the image dates from 9 September 2004 when Gordon Brown was Chancellor of the Exchequer – under a Labour Government.

The photo shown in the tweet above was taken by Associated Press photographer Richard Lewis. A similar one doing the rounds was captured by Martyn Hayhow of AFP and Getty Images.

Meanwhile, BBC politics producer Sean Clare yesterday used Twitter to post a photo of a new batch of champagne being delivered to Number 11. Albeit slightly less controversial.

Apparently, it was just a 12-bottle crate of ‘Bollinger’, from ‘friends up north’.

bollinger

• The issue of image verification was covered extensively in an AP feature on citizen journalism earlier this year