A demonstrator holding a US flag kneels in front of the Police at the Anaheim City Hall on June 1, 2020 in Anaheim, California, during a peaceful protest over the death of George Floyd. (AFP / Apu Gomes)

Disinformation swirls around George Floyd turmoil

Copyright AFP 2017-2020. All rights reserved

The protests sparked by the death of the unarmed and handcuffed black man George Floyd at the hands of US police have spread across the globe. And so has misinformation. Here is a list of debunks AFP Digital Verification team has made so far.   

46. This is not a photo of a genuine 'Antifa flag' that resembles a Nazi flag

An image of two flags has been shared thousands of times in multiple posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter which claim it shows the similarities between a “new Antifa flag” and a Nazi flag. The claim is false; the image of the purported “Antifa flag” has been doctored from footage of a flag seen at a far-right demonstration in the UK in 2016; experts say antifa is a loosely organised anti-fascist movement that does not have a designated flag. 

30 June 2020

More here.

45. This photo does not show looters being sprayed in Japan, with some posts suggesting US police should use the same measures

Thousands of Facebook and Instagram users in the United States claim a photograph shows looters being sprayed by a water cannon in Japan, with some of the posts suggesting American police should use the same measures. The claim is false; the photograph was taken in Hong Kong last year and it shows water fired at pro-democracy protesters defying a government ban.

30 June 2020

More here.

44. This photo does not show a woman 'beaten and raped' at a 2020 Black Lives Matter protest

A photo of a person with a bruised face has been shared in multiple Facebook posts in June 2020 alongside a claim that they were “beaten and raped” at a Black Lives Matter protest. This claim is false; the photo was published online in September 2016 by a Russian mixed martial arts fighter.

26 June 2020

More here.

43. False posts say Nazis defunded police

Social media posts shared thousands of times compare US protesters’ calls to defund the police with actions taken by Hermann Goering and the Nazis in Germany. This is false; Hitler’s National Socialists did not eliminate police, and a historian said the link between murderous Nazism and today’s largely-peaceful demonstrators is misplaced.

25 June 2020

More here.

42. Serena Williams' views on race misrepresented due to namesake's posts

A Facebook post arguing against racial distinctions was shared around 200,000 times by users who seemed to believe it came from tennis champion Serena Williams. However, the post, which emerged amid protests across the United States over racism, did not come from the global tennis icon, but instead from a white woman with the same name. Williams has used her social media platform to argue for more acknowledgment of racial disparities in the US.

24 June 2020

More here.

41. Old hoax about US crime statistics recirculates online as anti-racism protests continue

Multiple Facebook posts have repeatedly shared a graphic purporting to show 2015 US crime statistics released by the “Crime Statistics Bureau - San Francisco”. The posts purport to compare offender rates based on race and statistics on police killings. They were shared as large anti-racism protests were held across the US over the police killing of George Floyd. The claims are false; a US criminologist said the statistics are “bogus”; the San Francisco Police Department said the “Crime Statistics Bureau - San Francisco” cited in the posts does not exist.

24 June 2020

More here.

40. This video does not show Americans chanting support for the Indonesian president, the footage is of anti-racism protests in June 2020

A video has been viewed tens of thousands of times in multiple posts on Facebook alongside a claim that it shows Americans showing their support for Indonesian President Joko Widodo. The claim is false; this video actually shows people protesting against racism in the US city of Atlanta in June 2020.

24 June 2020

More here.

39. This photo does not show Irish 'slaves' in the American Colonies, the image was taken hundreds of years later and the claim conflates slavery with indentured labor

A post shared thousands of times on Facebook and Instagram says the “first slaves shipped to the American colonies in 1619 were 100 white children from Ireland.” The claim and others made alongside it are false, as it wrongly conflates slavery from the African continent with indentured labor borne of immigration, according to historians and experts.

20 June 2020

More here.

38. These photos of anti-racism protesters in the US are misleading -- one of them was taken during demonstrations in Hong Kong in October 2019

Four photos have been shared more than a thousand times on Facebook alongside a claim they all show anti-racism protesters during the novel coronavirus pandemic in the US. The claim is misleading; one of the four photos was taken during a protest in Hong Kong in October 2019.

19 June 2020

More here.

37. The Obama Foundation did not publish a George Floyd photo before his death

Articles and social media posts in multiple languages claim that the Obama Foundation posted a tweet on May 17, 2020 with a photo of George Floyd, eight days before his death in police custody. This is false; the foundation said the tweet’s preview image refreshed to a photo taken on May 30 when its website updated, and Twitter confirmed that thumbnails associated with tweets can change.

19 June 2020

More here.

36. Biker gangs did not unite to drive Antifa out of Seattle

Social media posts claim the Hells Angels and another motorcycle gang joined forces to remove anti-fascist movement Antifa from Seattle, where protesters established a police-free autonomous zone after protests prompted by the death of George Floyd. This is false; the Hells Angels’ most well-known member Sonny Barger denounced the claim as untrue, and the images used to back the claim on social media are old.

19 June 2020

More here.

35. This is not a photo from 2020 anti-racism protests in the US - the image has been doctored

An image that purports to show a protester holding a poster that bears text about Arabs has been shared in multiple posts on Facebook and Twitter in June 2020 alongside claims that the sign was displayed during ongoing protests in the US against racism and police brutality. The claim is false; the image has been doctored. The original photo, which shows the protester holding a different poster, was published by Reuters during anti-racism protests in the US in 2016.

19 June 2020

More here.

34. The police officer involved in George Floyd's death not not 'killed by rioters' as alleged in this video -- the footage has been digitally altered

A purported news report claims that Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer charged with second-degree murder over the killing of George Floyd in police custody, has been killed by rioters. The claim is false; the video was digitally altered from a CNN broadcast that originally reported on the death of basketball legend Kobe Bryant in January 2020; the website that shared the doctored video has a history of publishing hoaxes.

18 June 2020

More here.

33. Black Lives Matter did not issue 'rules' for white protesters

An article shared on Facebook claims Black Lives Matter issued rules for white people who join protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd. This is false; Black Lives Matter says it did not issue any such directives, and the supposed rules first appeared in posts that made no mention of the organization.

17 June 2020

More here.

32. This video does not show gunfirein the US in June 2020, the footage is from the soon-to-be-released movie The Tomorrow War

A video purported to show gunfire exchange on a street has been viewed tens of thousands of times on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Weibo in June 2020 alongside a claim that it was taken in the US, where widespread protests against police brutality and racism continue. The claim is false; the video has circulated online since at least January 2020 - months before the protests erupted in late May - and actually shows a scene from The Tomorrow War, a US movie expected to be released in 2021.

16 June 2020

More here.

31. This is not a photo of a woman kidnapped and beaten by George Floyd, the image is of an American student who posted online about being sexually assaulted in Spain

Facebook posts show a photo of an injured woman alongside the claim that she was kidnapped and beaten by George Floyd and several accomplices. This is false; the image shows an American student who posted online about being sexually assaulted in Spain.

16 June 2020

More here.

30. Fabricated Lincoln quote spreads online as protests rock US

As people protest racism and police brutality against black Americans, social media posts shared tens of thousands of times are attributing a quote about the danger of the United States destroying itself to Abraham Lincoln, with some opposing the demonstrations. But Lincoln experts say it is not an actual quote from the 16th US president, and is instead loosely based on remarks he made in 1838.

15 June 2020

More here.

29. This video does not show police shooting a dog during anti-racism protests in the US in 2020; the footage is from 2013

A video that shows a police officer fatally shooting a dog on a street has been viewed tens of thousands of times in multiple Facebook posts in June 2020 alongside a claim that it was filmed in the US “today”. The posts were published after protests were held across the US over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis in May 2020. The video has been shared in a misleading context; the footage has circulated in reports since 2013 about an incident in California.

15 June 2020

More here.

28. Elderly activist shoved by police in Buffalo, New York during George Floyd protests did not fake being injured

Facebook posts claim an elderly activist faked being injured after he was shoved by police in New York state during a protest over George Floyd’s death. This is false; the man was hospitalized, a prosecutor said he was treated for a head injury and bleeding from his ear, and his lawyer dismissed the idea as “ridiculous.”

12 June 2020

More here.

27. George Soros did not tell a German newspaper that he was 'funding Black Hate groups'

A text image purporting to show a quote that billionaire financier George Soros told BILD, a major German newspaper, has been shared widely on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The image claims that in 2014 Soros said he is “going to bring down the United States by funding Black Hate groups”. The claim is false; the quote does not exist in any BILD publication and Soros’ philanthropic foundation denied it nor Soros pays protestors.

12 June 2020.  

More here.

26. This video does not show Barack Obama crying in the wake of George Floyd's death; the footage is a montage of two separate speeches he gave on gun control while still president

A post shared thousands of times in different languages purports to show former US president Barack Obama crying at an anti-racism conference, with some saying he spoke after the fatal US arrest of George Floyd. In reality, the clip is a montage of two separate speeches Obama gave about gun control while he was still president.

12 June 2020

More here.

25. This photo does not show looters during George Floyd protests in the US in 2020; the image is from 2015

An online post shared thousands of times purports to show people raiding a store during the George Floyd protests sweeping the United States. While the photo does capture looters in action, it was taken in 2015 amid protests following the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who fell into a coma while in police custody in Baltimore.

11 June 2020

More here.

24. Misinformation circulates after parody account for Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison tweets about racism

An image of a purported tweet from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison claiming that he is “glad we don’t have any racism here in Australia” has been shared multiple times on Facebook. The claim is false; the tweet was not posted by Morrison, but a parody Twitter account.

10 June 2020

More here.

23. This video does not show a US protester stealing an ATM machine during anti-racism demonstrations; the footage is of a comedian pulling a prank in March 2019

Facebook posts shared thousands of times feature a video of a man trying to haul a cash machine onto a bus, with captions claiming he is a “protester” or “looter” who stole the ATM. However, the footage has nothing to do with anti-racism protests currently sweeping the US, which have seen outbreaks of looting. The man in the video is a comedian pulling a prank in March 2019.

10 June 2020

More here.

22. Minnesota attorney general and George Soros not colluding with Antifa group

Social media posts claim Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is coordinating with Antifa and imply that billionaire philanthropist George Soros is paying members of the far-left movement during demonstrations over George Floyd’s death. This is false; spokesmen denied the claims, and police said they were “not aware” of any such events.

10 June 2020

More here.

21. This video of a Black Lives Matter protest in the US has been manipulated to add an Indonesian song

A video has been viewed tens of thousands of times on Facebook alongside a claim that the footage shows American protesters dancing to an Indonesian song. The claim is false; the footage has been manipulated to add an Indonesian song.

10 June 2020

More here.

20. Photo of crowded bridge does not show New York memorial for George Floyd

Facebook posts shared thousands of times claim a photo shows marchers violating social distancing guidelines on the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City during a memorial for George Floyd. This is false; the image shows a protest held on the other side of the country, in Oregon.

9 June 2020

More here.

19. Filipino Facebook page behind doctored Kendall Jenner Black Lives Matter photo

Amid a wave of US protests over racism and police violence against African Americans, a photo of US model Kendall Jenner holding a Black Lives Matter sign caused doubt and mockery as online users pointed out an obvious edit to the image. The picture, which Jenner denied altering, can be traced to a now-deleted Jenner fan page on Facebook run from the Philippines.

9 June 2020

More here.

18. This photo does not show US protesters kneeling to the Chinese flag

A photo purporting to show people kneeling in front of the Chinese flag has been shared in multiple posts on Weibo, Twitter, Facebook and various forums alongside claims that it was taken during the ongoing nationwide protests against police brutality in the US. This claim is false; the photo has been doctored to include a placard and the Chinese flag.

8 June 2020

More here.

17. George Floyd's death was not staged

Posts shared thousands of times on Facebook claim that George Floyd’s death was staged, and that “crisis actors” were used to play the roles of the black man and police. This is false; autopsies confirmed Floyd’s death, and personnel files of the officers involved are available online.

5 June 2020

More here.

16. This photo of former US President Barack Obama is unrelated to George Floyd protests, it's from 2015

An image showing Barack Obama standing in front of a crowd has been shared hundreds of times in Facebook posts, linking the former US president to anti-racism protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd, a 49-year-old African American man. His death last month has sparked widespread demonstrations in the United States. However, the photo has been shared in a misleading context. It was taken in 2015, during the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches.

5 June 2020

More here.

15. Posts falsely claim that an attack killed a man in Oregon during George Floyd protests

Facebook posts shared more than 25,000 times claim that a man died after being kicked in the head in the US state of Oregon during a protest over George Floyd’s death. This is false; police said the man was “very much alive” after the incident, and a video from the demonstration showed him walking around following the assault.

5 June 2020

More here.

14. These photos do not how US protests against police brutality in 2020

Two photos have been shared hundreds of times in multiple Facebook posts published in May 2020 alongside a claim they show protests in the US. The claim is misleading; the photos have circulated online since 2011 and 2018 respectively in reports about a 2011 Occupy Wall Street protest in New York City and a rally organised by the far-left group Antifa in the US state of Oregon in 2018.

5 June 2020

More here.

13. Los Angeles Vietnam memorial was not vandalized during George Floyd protests

As protests spread across the US after the death in police custody of George Floyd, Facebook users shared a photo of a defaced Vietnam War memorial, implying that the vandalism occurred during the current demonstrations. This is false; while the memorial in Los Angeles was vandalized, it occurred four years earlier, not in 2020.

4 June 2020

More here.

12. This is not a video of US protesters storming the White House

A video has been viewed thousands of times in multiple Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram posts claiming it shows protesters breaking into the White House. The video began circulating online in late May 2020 as protesters demonstrated against racism in Washington and across the country. The claim is false; the footage in fact shows a protest outside the Ohio Statehouse in the state capital Columbus.

4 June 2020

More here.

11. This is not a video of a black FBI agent being arrested during June 2020 US protests

A video has been viewed millions of times in multiple Facebook and Twitter posts in early June 2020 alongside a claim it shows the arrest of a black FBI agent. The posts were published after nationwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism broke out across the US. The claim is false; US police said the man in the video is not an FBI agent, adding the clip shows an incident in June 2019.

4 June 2020

More here.

10. Only one of these photos was taken during the ongoing protests against police brutality in the US

Three photos showing posters bearing Chinese slogans have been shared by Weibo users with tens of thousands of followers alongside claims that they were photographed during the nationwide protests against police brutality in the US in May and June 2020. The claim is misleading; just one of the photos was taken during such a demonstration, and the other two appeared in reports about a gun rights rally in the US state of Virginia in January 2020. 

4 June 2020

More here.

9. Flyer advertising for 'professional anarchists' is fake

An image of a flyer claiming the Open Society Foundations, a philanthropic organization funded by billionaire George Soros, will pay people to protest was shared hundreds of times on Facebook and Instagram. The flyer is fake, according to the chairman of the local Democratic Party branch also mentioned in the image, and the foundation denied that it or Soros pays protesters.

3 June 2020

More here.

8. Altered image of Hitler used to criticize Trump during turmoil 

Posts on social media criticize Donald Trump by featuring an image of the US president holding a Bible aloft at a church near the White House alongside a seemingly similar one of Adolph Hitler. But the photo of Hitler has been doctored to add the book; in the original, his raised hand is empty.

3 June 2020

More here.

7. This photo does not show a US demonstrator calling on China to intervene in George Floyd protests

A photo has been shared repeatedly in multiple posts on Twitter and various forums alongside a claim it shows a protester in the US calling for Chinese support in the ongoing George Floyd protests. The claim is false; the photo has been doctored to show the protester holding a manipulated placard; the Chinese flag has also been superimposed on the image.

3 June 2020

More here.

6. This photo does not show a female protester being 'sexually harassed' by US police in 2020

A photo has been shared repeatedly in multiple Weibo posts which claim it shows US police officers sexually harassing a woman at a protest. The posts circulated online in late May 2020 during mass demonstrations across the US against police brutality. The claim is misleading; the photo has circulated online since 2011 in reports about police detaining a woman during the 2011 Occupy Wall Street protests. 

3 June 2020

More here.

5. This is not a genuine photo of a US police station engulfed by 'demonic' flames 

An image shared hundreds of times on Facebook appears to show eerie, symmetrical flames billowing from a Minneapolis “police station” during protests and unrest that followed the death of George Floyd while in the custody of the US city’s police. The image and caption are false; the photo has been doctored and the original depicts an apartment building, not a police station.

3 June 2020

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4. The Simpsons television show did not predict George Floyd's death

A drawing reproducing the scene of George Floyd’s death featuring characters from the US television show “The Simpsons” has been shared hundreds of times on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube alongside the claim it appeared in an episode of the series in 1990. This is false; the drawing was created by Italian artist Yuri Pomo, as an homage to Floyd’s death.

2 June 2020

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3. Far-right group poses as Antifa during George Floyd protests

A tweet from an account claiming to be anti-fascist movement Antifa promoted unrest during protests sparked by George Floyd’s death in Minnesota police custody and was shared thousands of times as a screenshot on social media. But Twitter said the account belonged to a far-right white nationalist organization and was suspended for inciting violence.

2 June 2020

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2. #DCBlackout hashtag used to falsely claim communications shut down during protests

The #DCBlackout hashtag was used to spread claims that communications in the US capital were shut down overnight during protests over George Floyd’s death in police custody. The claim is false; police said it appeared to be misinformation, an AFP journalist said her phone still worked, and Twitter suspended hundreds of accounts that used the hashtag for violating its manipulation policy.

2 June 2020

More here.

1. This is not a genuine image of Derek Chauvin, the police office who kept his knee on George Floyd's neck

A photo montage shared on social media claims to show Derek Chauvin, one of four police officers implicated in the death of Minneapolis man George Floyd, wearing a “Make Whites Great Again” baseball cap. The comparison is false; the montage shows two different men. 

29 May 2020

More here.