Some would advise you not to believe everything you read on the Internet. Better advice: Take everything with a grain of salt, and research every claim that seems extraordinary.
On Sunday, hundreds of social media users began redistributing a crudely-formed graphic that claimed senior BBC correspondent Jeremy Bowen had been pulled from Gaza City by the television network over a recently-published story in which Bowen denied seeing any evidence that Palestinian militants were using civilians as a human shield.
The graphic contends that Bowen was removed from Gaza after the Israeli government “complaint (sic)” to the BBC about the report, claiming it was “pro-Hamas.”
It’s unclear who made the graphic, but several prominent Twitter accounts, including Raajje News and Tariq Ramadan, a professor of contemporary Islamic studies at Oxford University, redistributed it — leading many to believe the claim in the crudely-Photoshopped graphic is accurate.
It’s not, and the explanation as to why Bowen hasn’t been seen on television is pretty banal: He’s on vacation.
In fact, Bowen said so himself on July 29 in a tweet to a follower:
@RAFx103 because I'm on holiday
— Jeremy Bowen (@BowenBBC) August 1, 2014
Chris Hamilton, a social media editor at the BBC, also rejected claims that the network had pulled Bowen over pro-Hamas reporting:
@LaurenBoothUK @TariqRamadan Simply not true. He’s on a break: https://t.co/t5q4LvpDcb
— Chris Hamilton (@chrishams) August 4, 2014
@ChrisHazzardSF Rumours are totally false – he's having a break
— Chris Hamilton (@chrishams) August 3, 2014
Jonathan Munro, Bowen’s boss at the BBC, chimed in early Monday morning, saying the veteran correspondent would return to the Middle East after his vacation ends:
Nonsense that @BowenBBC left Gaza under Israeli pressure. After Syria, Iraq, Israel & Gaza he's on holiday, returning to Mid East v soon.
— Jonathan Munro (@jonathancmunro) August 4, 2014
It’s understandable why a rumor gone unchecked would develop legs on social media, considering ABC World News’ recent snafu over mislabeled photos showing Palestinian civilians and NBC’s decision to withdraw an expert correspondent after he witnessed an Israeli airstrike that killed Palestinian children (he was later reinstated, and is now on a voluntary break from reporting). But a little digging would have debunked the rumor about Bowen, who will be back to reporting for the network after his vacation ends.