Stolen Face…

Neda Soltani (left) and Neda Agha-Soltan (right)

There you are going about your life, going to work, doing things that millions of people do daily, even to the point of signing up to Facebook and uploading your picture, when all hell breaks lose and you end up having to flee the country you live in. Just imagine one day waking up to find your inbox full of messages and requests to be your friend on Facebook.

Apart from thinking my god I am popular, and not really understanding what is going on until you read the rest of your emails and are told your photograph is plastered all over the media and on broadcasting channels across the world as the person who was shot dead in a protest the day before.

Unbelievable isn’t it?

You would think that by putting the record straight and saying you are not that person, and that it is a clear case of mistaken identity, your nightmare would be over, wouldn’t you?  Not in a million years would you think it is just about to get worse, to the extent where you would have to flee your country.

You see that is what happened to Neda Soltani, on the 21st June 2009.

The previous day there had been a demonstration and Neda Agha-Soltan was shot dead by a bullet to the heart.  Then someone, in their wisdom, decided to scour Facebook and rule out every Neda Soltani until they think they had found the right person.  Neda states in an interview with BBC Outlook the following:

In this email I read that a girl called Neda Soltani – which is my name – had been killed on the streets of Tehran the day before. Since no information had been made available about her, this person was trying to find her on Facebook through a process of elimination – ruling out the other Neda Soltanis on the site.

Neda Soltani who is alive and well, found that a picture which she uploaded to her Facebook account was now being plastered across the media saying she was dead.  She saw people doing sit-ins, making shrines and she said it felt like she was watching her own funeral.

Even when she told people they had got it so wrong some people posted updates, mainly bloggers. Neda said this about about the reactions of others when she told them they had it so wrong:

Some bloggers posted updates, but the journalists who received my message did not react – my picture continued to be used.

You can hear Neda speaking to BBC Outlook by clicking on the arrow on the left.

Gobsmacking isn’t it?.. How her mistaken identity a) put her life in danger and b) made her have to flee her own country and seek asylum abroad for fear of what the authorities in Iran would do to her, because she refused to go along with their propaganda about what happened that fateful day to Neda Agha-Soltan.

It wasn’t until 48 hours after Neda Agha-Soltan was killed that her family released her photograph.  But did this stop the media from printing both photos alongside each other?


I don’t know about you, but it really does make you think twice about your online identity and what affect it can have on you, if you are mistakenly thought to be someone else.

We are lucky here in the West because we don’t have to live in fear of what the authorities might do us.  But on the other hand, the media knowing full well what can happen to a person – especially as the person whose identity was mistaken was now receiving hate-mail and being persecuted by the authorities – you would honestly think they would put the record straight and stop using Neda Soltani’s photo as she was in no way connected to what happened the day before, wouldn’t you?

This modern social-networking side most definitely has a dark side to it… wouldn’t you agree?

Neda Soltani has now written a book about her ordeal and it is on kindle and can be purchased from Amazon.


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