Some misinformation about a teenage girl who had supposedly gone missing in Rotherhithe was debunked by the News this week.
A screenshot, apparently from a news website called Fin News, purported to show a missing 13-year-old girl, along with a message apparently from police asking people to get in touch with any news about her, and a photo supposedly of the girl. The screenshot was being circulated on social media in the local area.
But a reverse image search – which allows the user to search for where an image has been used before on the internet – showed that the photo of the ‘Rotherhithe girl’ was in fact Grace Clarke, a young girl who went missing in Brighton in August 2020, and was later found again. There was also no online version of the Fin News article that had been screenshotted.
The News alerted the Met police to the issue, and officers soon released a statement confirming our suspicions that this was fake.
A spokesperson for the police said: “We are aware of an article circulating on social media reporting police are investigating the abduction of a 13 year old girl in Rotherhithe on 03/01.
“We have no matching reports or incidents of this nature. We believe that the photo is of a girl who was reported missing outside London some time ago and was found safe and well.”
Local police warned last year of the danger of speculating about unconfirmed reports of missing people after rumours circulated of men in white vans abducting children in Peckham.
A spokesperson said at the time: “Police fully understand the concerns from parents and residents in Southwark and would like to reassure the community that all reports of this nature are taken very seriously indeed. Fortunately, incidents of child abduction are very rare, and we can confirm that no reports relating to child abductions have been received.
“We respectfully ask the community to refrain from engaging in speculation that can unnecessarily increase the fear of crime and cause great upset amongst our communities”.