London man depicted as Tyreek Amir Jacobs speaks: "I'm actually alive"
The photo on the left of a man purportedly killed over sneakers was taken from this stock photo of a student in a chemistry lab (Left, a Facebook memorial image. At right, an image from IStock photo)
As shoppers around the country clashed over the sneakers, reports circulated social media and blogs that an 18-year-old Washington DC teenager named Tyreek Amir Jacobs had been killed in one of the melees. In fact, police reported no such killings, and the image of "Jacobs" was from a stock catalog.
In London, Sidney Boahen says he was getting home from his job as a pharmacist trainee and saw in his Facebook inbox that a friend had seen the report. "It's you!" they said.
Boahen said the photo was taken five years ago without his permission by a teacher. He remembers the photos being taken - but didn't know they would eventually be sold and made available as stock images. "This is a legal issue now, because I was only 17 at the time and he didn't have my parent's permission," he told me in a phone conversation.
So in reporting on a hoax, how does a reporter make sure they're not being punked again? I had messaged Sidney last night after he posted on our blog taking ownership of the photo. He called me today, and I asked him to accept my friend request. His timeline from yesterday afternoon shows friends commenting on how ridiculous it was that he was now known in the 'States as "Tyreek Jacobs."
"That's you in chemistry lol nuts man. You should stop it before it gets outta control," one person wrote.
"May I call you 'teek teek' from now on?" another asked, referring to the nickname the fictitious Jacobs was said to have been known as.
After he started posting that on Facebook and The Sun's site that the picture was of him, he said he got bombarded with friend requests on Facebook and had to block them. He's not looking for the attention.
Boahen wants the photos taken out of the stock image collections, where it's been used at least one other time on the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund blog. "It's a false representation," he said. "Maybe there's a person out there that [actually] died. No one should be killed over sneakers. But his picture should be up there, not mine."