Singapore — While a Singapore-based firm has admitted to doctoring photos of former United States President Barack Obama and has said that it meant no malice, the online sentiment is that it should not have used them.
On Saturday (Aug 22), Reuters reported that the Bellagraph Nova Group (BN Group), which recently came into the limelight after announcing its intent to buy the Newcastle United football club, had admitted to having doctored photos of Mr Obama in some of its marketing materials.
And while the photos were indeed of Mr Obama at an event in Singapore sponsored by some of the owners of the BN Group, some details were altered to make it appear that Mr Obama had been in a private meeting with some BN Group executives in Paris.
The company added that parts of the information in the materials had errors or had been released prematurely after Reuters pointed out inconsistencies in them during the process of fact-checking.
Mr Nereides Antonio Giamundo de Bourbon, the head of investor relations of the BN Group, “acknowledged that the company had altered photos of Obama to make it look as though he had attended a meeting with its executives in Paris”.
And while the doctored photos are no longer on the firm’s site, the BN Group “denied that the company had deliberately made any false claims about certain aspects of its business”.
According to Mr Bourbon: “We are serious people … the only ambiguous thing has been the photoshop picture. There wasn’t any malicious aim behind it.”
The Sunday Times and straitstimes.com (Aug 23) had stories on the matter, with the print version having the headline “Nothing malicious about doctored photos, says firm”, and the online article entitled, “Nothing malicious about doctored photos, says Singapore-registered firm in Newcastle United bid”.
The BN Group was founded by Singaporean businessmen and cousins Terence Loh, 42, and Nelson Loh, 41, as well as Chinese jewellery merchant Evangeline Shen. All three are former bankers, with the Lohs having worked at JP Morgan and Ms Chen at Morgan Stanley.
People online have questioned the rationale for the use of the photos.
Tiong Guan Chua shared the story from The Sunday Times, captioning his post, “Real serious integrity issues!”
Journalist and journalism professor Bertha Henson commented on the matter on her Facebook page:
Nothing malicious…so it’s okay to dupe readers? No harm done etc? Terribly unethical. Who wants to do business with people who think there’s nothing wrong with lying?
Others were also against the use of the photos.