In the world of fake news, media critics try to be more vigilant in how news outlets share information. Even when some mistakes could happen inadvertently, RT found the hard way that a group called Lobby for Cyprus was actually watching.
The RT UK news network featured country flags in one of their reports to discuss which countries were expelling Russian diplomats and which were not, following criticism from Europe towards Russia for the use of Soviet-era nerve gas on a Russian spy in London.
But the Lobby for Cyprus noticed that the flag next to Cyprus was in fact not the right one. Instead of the Republic of Cyprus flag next to the name, RT used a flag representing the breakaway regime in the northern part of the island, which is not recognised anywhere in the world except Turkey.
Only the Republic of Cyprus flag is recognised around the world as the national Cypriot flag.
RT quickly fixed the mistake and apologised, but several comments were posted on their Twitter account. Some were positive, thanking the network for correcting the mistake while others expressed disappointment that a news network did not know which flag to use.
Please note error in your news report @RT_com @RTUKnews – the correct flag of Republic of #Cyprus consists of a map of the island with olive branches. Flag you mistakenly used is that of the legally invalid Turkish occupation regime in the north of the country pic.twitter.com/YGaJIOgAJe— Lobby for Cyprus (@LobbyforCyprus) March 27, 2018
Using a flag other than the Republic of Cyprus flag for the island-nation is anathema to many Greek Cypriots, who view the Turkish Cypriot flag as a symbol of occupation and oppression.
Turkish Cypriots use a different flag for themselves after they broke away from the Republic in 1964 and declared independence in 1983, an act which was condemned by the international community. Only the Republic of Cyprus flag is recognised around the world as the national Cypriot flag.
Recent efforts to reunite the island in a bizonal, bicommunal federation failed and it is not clear what other steps the two communities may take towards a final settlement of the decades-old Cyprus problem.