There’s an illustration being shared on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter that claims to be a tribute created by street artist Banksy in response to the terrorist attack that killed 12 people near the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris on Wednesday.
While the image does have a touching message, it’s a fake—not created by Banksy.
Here’s the illustration that everyone is sharing:
Mashable is reporting that the image was posted by a “popular ‘Banksy’ account” on Instagram. The instagram.com/banksy Instagram isn’t run by Banksy at all, and is actually a fan page that shares street art created by a variety of different artists—rarely with any attribution.
Banksy has issued a statement to the Independent denying that the illustration is his work. “We can confirm this is not by Banksy,” said a spokesman for the anonymous artist.
Instead, it appears that the illustration was originally posted by graphic designer Lucille Clerc, just with an added Instagram filter.
Here’s Clerc’s original Instagram post:
Search on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and you’ll see plenty of popular accounts that seem to be official Banksy pages. The problem of fake social media accounts is so widespread that Banksy has even posted on his official website to deny he runs any Facebook or Twitter accounts. He does, however, have one Instagram account, which was used during his recent trip to New York.
Facebook was recently forced to remove the verification checkmark for a Facebook page for a Banksy account with millions of likes after the artist’s PR representative denied that he had anything to do with it.
The Instagram account that the pencil illustration originates from is part of a ring of fake social media profiles. As well as the fake Instagram and Facebook accounts, the administrators behind the Banksy pages also run a YouTube account that re-uploads popular viral videos to capitalize on their popularity.
Another clue that points to the image being fake is its file size. The image uploaded to the fake Banksy social media posts is pixelated and low-resolution. Banksy is an artist who makes a living from exhibiting his work, and wouldn’t want his work to be displayed in a way that made it look bad.
It’s tricky to verify new Banksy work. Because of Banksy’s continued anonymity, and the often confusing similarity to other graffiti artists, many works of art end up mistakenly labeled as created by Banksy. A handful of galleries and companies in the U.K. are, however, experts in his work, meaning that they can verify prints purported to originate from Banksy.
Nevertheless, given Wednesday’s tragic events, the sentiment is strong.