Posts falsely claim Sri Lankan opposition party launched Covid-19 charity campaign for artists
Photos purporting to show members of a Sri Lankan opposition party delivering care packages to artists affected by the Covid-19 pandemic have circulated in multiple posts on Facebook. The photos, however, have been doctored; party symbols were digitally inserted into pictures from a genuine charity campaign. A party spokesman also told AFP that the organisation was not involved in the campaign.
The photos were published on Facebook here on December 30, 2020.
“Great effort by the Red Star and Dialog. A lot of Sri Lankan artists lost their income sources due to the pandemic. Some have become really helpless,” the Sinhala-language text superimposed on the photos reads.
“The Red Star began helping these artists and visited their homes to extend support. Dialog is also helping and supporting Red Star in this venture.”
The Facebook post is captioned: “Thank you Red Star”.
Dialog is a telecommunications company in Sri Lanka.
The post circulated as Sri Lanka experienced a surge in Covid-19 cases, with the number of reported infections soaring from 3,300 in October 2020 to more than 60,000 on January 28, 2021, according to an AFP tally.
The photos, however, have been doctored.
A reverse image search found that the Red Star symbols were digitally inserted into the photos.
The original photos were published on Facebook here on December 28, 2020.
"Since Covid-19 had made it difficult to hold end of year events and concerts, Dialog took steps to use funds to make donations to senior artists in the country,” the Sinhala-language text superimposed on the photos reads.
“While following health guidelines, they visited the homes of artistes and paid tribute to the contributions they made to nourish local arts. This effort should be commended."
Below is a screeshot comparison of the original photos (top) and the doctored images with the inserted Red Star logos circled in yellow (bottom):
A spokesman for the People’s Liberation Front also said that the party was not involved in any such charity campaign.
“We have not launched such a campaign to make donations to local artistes,” the party’s Chief of Media Upul Ranjan told AFP during a phone conversation on January 27, 2021.
The campaign -- launched by Dialog and the CineStar Foundation, which supports local cinemas -- entailed visiting senior artists in their homes to offer them care packages.
AFP has previously debunked false claims about the People’s Liberation Front. In October 2020, Facebook posts falsely claimed it had offered quarantine facilities and financial support for Covid-19 patients.