The Thai education ministry's official Facebook page issued an apology on Tuesday after publishing an altered photo that appeared to show a senior official visiting a flood-affected area.
The photo, posted on Sunday, Sept. 26, by the Office of the Ministry of Education, showed Deputy Education Minister Kanokwan Wilawan wading through floodwaters along with a caption expressing concern for students and school staff in areas hit by tropical storm Dian Mu over the weekend, as reported by local newspaper Khaosod English.
"Teacher Oh is closely monitoring the flood in many areas, including the situation of schools and education facilities under the ministry's supervision," part of the caption reads, using Kanokwan's nickname.
However, social media users were quick to notice that the photo was digitally altered, with Kanokwan's image superimposed on a background photo showing a flooded street.
Some users even managed to find the original image Kanokwan was cropped out of, confirming the forgery. In 2020, the official visited a flood affected area and the said photo was posted on social media.
After netizens called out the obvious doctoring and flooded the ministry's PR page with scathing jokes, the ministry deleted the photo and issued an apology on Tuesday. The statement said the public relations team was solely responsible for the altered image, and insisted that Kanokwan was not involved in the process.
This is not the first time a government official's photoshopped image has been posted as an official press photo. In 2015, India's state media agency Press Information Bureau tweeted out a photoshopped image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to the flood-hit area of southern India.
The image, captioned "conducting an aerial survey of rain hit area in Tamil Nadu," showed Modi looking through the round window of his helicopter at a clear view of waterlogged buildings. However, the same photo had been previously been posted on Modi's personal Twitter account, confirming that PIB had photoshopped its version of the image, superimposing the picture of the building on to the photo.