Image purporting to reveal US president wearing a diaper was digitally altered

  • This article is more than one year old.
  • Published on June 15, 2023 at 16:44
  • 2 min read
  • By James OKONG'O, AFP Kenya
Soon after US President Joe Biden tripped and fell at a graduation ceremony for the US Air Force Academy in Colorado, a photo appearing to show him wearing a diaper emerged online in Africa and in the US. But the image is doctored: the original picture taken by an AFP photographer at the event does not reveal a diaper under the US leader’s suit. AFP video footage corroborates this.

The image was published on Twitter in Ghana on June 5, 2023, and has since been shared more than 300 times.

“Ah US president this?” reads the tweet.

Screenshot showing the doctored photo, taken on June 14, 2023

The image shows Biden wearing a dark blue suit being helped up from a stage by his aides, apparently exposing a diaper in the process.

A similar claim was shared in another tweet in Nigeria and on Facebook in the US.

At 80, Biden has had to confront (archived here) questions about his age, health and mental acuity as he launches a reelection campaign for the presidency in 2024.

Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump, as he vied a second term in 2020, tried to portray his opponent then as senile, calling him “Sleepy Joe”. Related false claims were debunked by AFP Fact Check (here and here).

The image of Biden purportedly wearing a diaper is also false and has been altered from its original form.

Doctored photo

AFP Fact Check conducted a reverse image search and found the original picture published with an AFP article on June 2, 2023 (archived here).

A search in the AFP photo archives revealed the picture was taken by Brendan Smialowski and does not show a diaper on Biden.

Image from the AFP website showing Biden being helped up by his aides

On June 1, 2023, Biden tripped and fell after delivering a speech and handing out diplomas to graduates of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and was helped up by aides before walking back to his seat.

Biden’s tumble was also captured on video by AFP (archived here). He appears to trip, fall to his knees and catch himself with his hands.

Screenshot from the AFP video showing the fall

Biden, who is America’s oldest serving president, appeared unhurt after the fall and told reporters he had been “sandbagged”, referring to an object on stage that he apparently tripped over.

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