There have been lots of cases of photo identification mixups over the years, and they’re always a bad look for the outlet that runs with them. However, many of those mixups are at least somewhat tied to a labeling mistake from a wire service. The latest case where that seems true is with an ESPN Instagram post (shown at top, since deleted) that featured content of rapper Future (seen at right above in a photo from his official Instagram account) discussing his 2015 song “March Madness,” but used a photo of 2 Chainz (seen above at left). And that drew a lot of Twitter criticism:
ESPN’s Instagram posted a bunch of Wilt Chamberlain stats and captioned it “Future on ‘March Madness’” just for them to put a picture of 2 Chainz on the next slide??? pic.twitter.com/yBpvTcpLvL
— Jackson Cain (@_jackswan_) March 1, 2021
Who gonna tell @espn that this 2Chainz and not Future pic.twitter.com/Nplw3mxgMQ
— John “JRob” Robinson IV (@JohnnyRobIV) March 1, 2021
I just know ESPN aint put 2 Chainz face and tag Future talkin bout March Madness ??♂️ pic.twitter.com/KdAfzbl1tW
— CREAM? (@Creamox6) March 1, 2021
Diversify your social teams pic.twitter.com/KSfrZHGMq2
— Jasmine (@JasmineLWatkins) March 1, 2021
However, while the ultimate fault here is ESPN’s for this mixup, a Getty Images labeling issue may have contributed to the error. Getty’s database is publicly searchable, and this photo of 2 Chainz at the 2020 NBA All-Star Game shows up on the fourth page of search results (filtered by newest) for “Future rapper” (required in order to eliminate just stock photos of “the future”). It shows up on the third page if filtered by best match. And while the individual captions for those photos correctly identify 2 Chainz rather than Future (at least as of Monday night at 9:30 p.m. ET; it’s unclear if they were correct earlier when ESPN pulled this photo), mousing over them still reveals a “People: Future” tag. We don’t know if that initial error was from Getty themselves, or from NBA Entertainment (which provided these specific photos to Getty). But there was something going on here that put photos of 2 Chainz in a search for Future.
Of course, none of that diminishes the point about the importance of diverse social staffs, and perhaps a more diverse staff would have realized that this wasn’t a photo of Future. And this is still ESPN’s mistake in the end; final accuracy falls on the news outlet, and there have been plenty of cases of wire services getting a label wrong, so it’s generally worth comparing what you find from one with a different photo of the person in question. But it’s interesting to see that this photo of 2 Chainz was categorized as “People: Future” in Getty’s database and shows up in searches for Future. It’s not just ESPN who got it wrong here.