Earlier in October, Vice's women's interest channel, Broadly, posted an article written by a woman who claimed her mother went on a date with the Dalai Lama in 1973. It quickly drew criticism from Dalai Lama worshippers, who cited factual inaccuracies with the article and branded the story as "defamatory".
One of the main criticisms about the Vice article concerned the image used, which the author claimed shows her mother with the Dalai Lama 42 years ago. However, many have pointed out that images of the Dalai Lama from that time period prove that the man in the Vice image is not the Dalai Lama. The Tibetan Feminist Collective and the International Campaign for Tibet are among those who are calling on Vice to retract the "defamatory" article following its publication on 11 October.
In the article, author Carrie Shirley claimed her mother went on an "uncomfortable date" with the Dalai Lama in 1973 but that the Dalai Lama "couldn't hit it". Shirley wrote her mother found the Dalai Lama to be "naive", "weird" and "hard to talk to" and that he had called her "more than three times" after their date, but her mother allegedly rejected him. According to the author, her mother said: "He was just a pest."
Vice has now updated the article with a statement that reads: "In light of recent discoveries, Broadly cannot verify that the man in the photos is the Dalai Lama during his visit to Cambridge in 1973. However, the women in the photo swear that's who he claimed to be. This is their story." They also updated their headline to include the word "claims".
However, the president of the International Campaign for Tibet criticised Vice following their admittance over not being able to verify the photograph. Matteo Mecacci wrote on Twitter: "Now [this] is embarrassing. You can't verify the identity: the story is false! Take it down!"
Critics have also hit out at the article for other "factual inaccuracies", which they say brings into question the overall authenticity of the story. The article alleges that the author's mother "went on a walking tour of the campus" at Cambridge University, went punting on the river and was "treated to a tour of his room, where he had set up a shrine with 'ancient artifacts', which he told them were 'from BC'".
However, publication Shanghaiist noted that the original article made a reference to the "Charles river", which isn't located in Cambridge in England, but is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the United States.
A Buddhist monk, Tenzin Peljor, also commented on the fact that the Dalai Lama did not live in Cambridge and, therefore, would not have had a shrine with ancient artefacts in his room. The monk also said: "Tibetan artefacts were not made BC."
The article was published by Broadly in light of the Dalai Lama's controversial comments about a female successor needing to be "very attractive". Speaking to the BBC in September, the Dalai Lama said if he were to have a female successor, she would need to be "very attractive" or else she would be "not much use".
Many took to social media to express their shock and disapproval at the religious leader's comments. However, Buddhist supporters came to his defence, insisting the comments needed to be taken in context with a wider understanding of Buddhism.