In a world where people share content before verifying, Indonesian tidal bore thrill-seekers find themselves the face of the Tonga tsunami

Australia’s Channel 9 News using footage from Indonesia to depict the Tonga tsunami. Photo: Video screengrab
Australia’s Channel 9 News using footage from Indonesia to depict the Tonga tsunami. Photo: Video screengrab

Two separate incidents occurring in totally different parts of the world have been linked due to irresponsible use of the share button on social media.

Among the biggest news items in the world this week is undoubtedly the massive undersea volcanic eruption off of Tonga, which triggered a tsunami that hit the Pacific nation on Saturday. As of this article’s publication, two deaths have been confirmed while rescuers are scrambling to provide aid amid destruction to the nation’s communications infrastructure.

All the way in Indonesia, three thrill-seekers achieved viral fame recently after they posted videos of themselves running from, and, in one case involving a banana tree-puncher, directly facing a terrifying tidal bore on Ogis Beach along Riau Province’s Kampar River.

Though the Indonesia footage were taken on Dec. 6, 2021, many on social media have shared the clips in recent days along with the misleading caption that they depicted a scene from the Tonga tsunami. In the example below, the post has been retweeted more than 2,000 times, though Twitter has at least slapped it with an “out of context” tag.

Perhaps the worst offender was Australia’s Channel 9News, who, despite the luxury of having a professional newsroom, failed to fact-check the video before airing it.

That’s called stereotyping tropical locales, mate.

In case you’re wondering, the Riau thrill-seekers survived being swept by the tidal bore. Judging by their YouTube content, it doesn’t look like their wave-catching and extreme adventure days are going to end anytime soon.

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