Israeli weapons In Libya? How @acarvin and his Twitter followers debunked sloppy journalism

When several news organizations posted stories claiming they had evidence of Israeli munitions being used in Libya, my Twitter followers and I investigated the claims and ultimately debunked them. Here's the story of how we did it and the evidence we found along the way.

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  1. It all began on March 12, 2011 when I was at the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas, participating in a session about social media and the Middle East, organized by the New York Times.
  2. While sitting in the session, I received a tweet from @jan15egy asking me to look into something.
  3. صناعة اسرائيلية ضد الشعب الليبي
  4. The image was posted on the Facebook page for Al Manara, a popular Libyan expat news service based in the UK. Headlined "Israeli industry against the Libyan people," the photo shows what some type of mortar shell with what appears to be a Star Of David on it, as well as some form of crescent-like symbol. Al Manara assumed the Star Of David meant it was manufactured by Israel, and claimed as such in the headline.

    The whole thing struck me as very odd, so I asked my Twitter followers to help me investigate it:
  5. While I started some Google searches of my own, I began to receive replies from people with their own research in a matter of minutes.
  6. Then someone commented on what I thought was a crescent in the original photo:
  7. At this point, we began to make some progress regarding what those symbols meant.
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