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how this photo has been hijacked for years

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Since 2016, this photo of a disgusting water pipe has come to illustrate several different contexts in many countries. This pipe would carry “drinking water” in Benin, would be synonymous with the insalubrity of the network in Cameroon or the Democratic Republic of Congo, or would in fact be in Poland, Italy, or France. The photo was actually taken in Thailand in April 2016, and this tip had at the time been identified and changed by Thai authorities.

This is one of the most regularly diverted images on social networks for seven years: a pipe with disgusting and oozing orange or gray detritus, which we imagine agglomerated for a long time.

The image circulated recently in Benin and Cameroon where Facebook posts, respectively 5 million and 1 million views million times claimed to show there a pipe carrying drinking water.

It is also found in a TikTok post from March 21, 2023. “At the risk of shocking you, this is a pipe where the water from your tap passes,” says the owner of the account. His video has been viewed 175,000 times on this social network.

This image is actually old, since it was posted for the first time on April 16, 2016 by a Facebook user in Thailand. It was a pipe spotted in the Luang Prot Than Liam community in Bangkok’s Lat Krabang district.

A year later, the authority in charge of water regulation in Thailand explained that this pipe had been removed and changed. She specified, in a Facebook post, that samples had been taken at the time, and had not revealed any problem with the water level thanks to “chlorine [qui a] killed germs, meeting the World Health Organization drinking water standards recommendation criteria”.

The photo had already been analyzed by our editorial staff in 2019, when it circulated with captions claiming show the condition of a pipeline in Gabon.

A pipe in a state dangerous to health?

The editorial staff of the France 24 Observers contacted the Rhône Mediterranean Corsica Water Agencya public administrative establishment responsible in particular for combating pollution in wastewater networks in France.

At the mere sight of the photo, the representatives of the agency believe that it was urgent to change this piping:

What is dangerous here is the brake on the flow: we see the presence of various deposits including, apparently, a metal bar responsible for the brake on the free flow in the pipe and therefore at the origin of all these deposits. Any material can settle, be retained, accumulate and slowly degrade, thus creating a permanent source of pollution that the treatment plant (if there is one) cannot absorb and neither can the receiving environment. In this case, there was an urgent need to proceed with the partial or total replacement of the pipe. Which apparently has been done.

By definition, wastewater is likely to carry pathogens and therefore harm health. Rainwater is charged, by leaching from surfaces, with everything: human and animal excrement, hydrocarbons, objects containing various chemical compounds used in their manufacture, liquids and/or water-soluble solids, etc. Therefore, all these materials are likely to harm human health and the environment in the general sense of the term.

If you wish to contact our team to verify a questionable photo, do not hesitate to do so via the Twitter account @InfoIntoxF24 !

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