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Old photos of the Amazon rainforest spark conspiracy theories



The Amazon rainforest has suffered from more than 10,000 new forest fires since Aug. 15, a record pace that has sparked international concern and a state of emergency in Amazonas, Brazil’s largest state. Experts fear rapid destruction of the world’s largest rainforest could bring consequences for the rest of the globe if left unchecked.

The crisis in the Amazon has led many people to donate funds towards rainforest protection efforts and share messages of support on social media. The problem is that some of the most popular images being shared in posts about the fires are not actually photos of the current crisis.

This image of the Amazon shared by Cristiano Ronaldo, was photographed in 2013 in southern Brazil, away from the rainforest.

Leonardo DiCaprio, Cristiano Ronaldo, and French president Emmanuel Macron are among the dozens of people using improperly sourced images of the Amazon in their posts about the fires devastating the rainforest, according to a report from Mother Jones. Several of the most popular images are of past forest fires in the Amazon from several years ago, while others were taken in different locations entirely.

Read more: Striking photos show the devastation wreaked by record-breaking fires in the Amazon rainforest

While there are plenty of genuine images of the fires that have devastated the Amazon in the past weeks, there are conspiracy theorists accusing influential people like Macron and DiCaprio of trying to spread panic using fake pictures. The improperly sourced photos contribute to a climate of misinformation surrounding the rainforest fires as world leaders and non-profit organizations work to organize a response to a very real crisis.

If you want to help protect the Amazon rainforest from forest fires, you can donate to charities like the Amazon Conservation Association, Amazon Conservation Team and Rainforest Trust. DiCaprio’s environmental organization Earth Alliance announced a $5 million emergency fund the help protect the Amazon on Aug. 25.

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