Images can become iconic extremely quickly, identifying movements with a visual is a powerful force in our visual world. What happens though when one of those iconic images turns out to be based on a mistake?
In the ongoing civil unrest in Iran no one image has become more iconic than the one of Neda Soltani, the young woman who was shot down in the streets. The big problem is that the image of Neda Soltani that is being flashed around the world may not be the actual picture of the Neda Soltani that was killed. According to Techdirt the picture we are seeing came about as a result of a misunderstanding of how Facebook works.
Basically, a woman named Amy Beam, who was interested in the Neda Soltani in the video contacted other Neda Soltani’s found on Facebook, and one communicated back with her, and eventually they “friended” each other on Facebook. Soon after, the “living” Neda Soltani posted a translation of an article about the killed Neda Soltani on Amy’s Facebook “wall.” However, the way this works, is that along with the post on the wall, it includes the poster’s own avatar/profile photo — in this case the living Neda Soltani. From that, others who were friends of Amy saw the name Neda Soltani, the story about the killed woman, and the photo of the living woman — and assumed they were all the same woman… and from there the photo started spreading like wildfire, including websites, TV, banners and elsewhere. And the really scary part is that the living Neda Soltani is now quite afraid for her life, since she’s suddenly become “the face of the face of the struggle in Iran” despite not being the woman who was shot.
This mistaken picture of Neda has been flashed around the world, it is a part of our collective memories of this time in Iran. We even used the picture in one of our posts about the killing of Soltani. I haven’t been able to find a picture of the real Neda Soltani that was killed but as soon as one shows up we’ll let you know.