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Altered video made it look like Slovakia’s president sent a vulgar message

Author(s): Robert Barca, AFP Fact Check

Thousands of social network users in January shared a video that appears to show Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová beneath US and Isreali flags with paper cards that carry a vulgar message. In reality, the video was digitally altered. The original video is almost a year and a half old and it shows the President thanking her Instagram followers.

More than 9,000 Facebook users shared the video that was posted by a private Facebook user on January 14, 2021 with the caption in Slovak: “A message to Slovaks from the Presidential Palace”.

The video, which was seen by more than 170,000 users, shows the President of Slovakia, Zuzana Čaputová, standing under the flags of the United States and Israel. The president appears to be holding paper cards with the words in Slovak: “Slovaks, I give zero f*cks about you”.

A screenshot of a manipulated video taken on January 17, 2022

The  author of the viral Facebook post provides a link to a source video on YouTube, which contains the warning in Slovak: “Attention! This video is edited, it is not real but is instead my vision of the person in the clip ”. But none of this is apparent from the Facebook post itself.

The comments below the Facebook post show that some users believed that the head of state published the video with the vulgar message herself.

“Is this really how President should act? What? Such a shame in front of the entire world,” one person commented. 

Screenshot of comments under the manipulated video taken on January 17, 2022

The same video was posted here with 600 shares. It was also shared by the former unsuccessful candidate of Kotleba’s ĽSNS party Marian Magat, who was in the past convicted of illegal armament (870 shares).

In reality, the video has been digitally manipulated. The flags of two countries were added to the video, and the words on the cards held by the president were altered. The original video was published on July 30, 2020 and it shows Zuzana Čaputová thanking her fans:

In the original, almost one-year-and-a-half old video, there are no  flags in the background and the president holds paper cards with the words “There are already 300 thousand of you here, Thank you!”

Comparison of two videos. Screenshot of the manipulated viral video from January 2022 (left), Screenshot of the original Instagram video from July 2020 (right)

“Indeed we are aware of the video, it’s obviously fake (digitally edited), but most people probably don’t recognize it. We are communicating about this video with representatives of Facebook and Youtube,” Jakub Goda, who works with social networks and curbing disinformation at the President’s Office, told AFP on January 17.

President Zuzana Čaputová is a frequent target of disinformation campaigns, photomontages and false claims. At AFP Fakty, we have previously debunked such false or doctored content, for example, here, here or here.

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Originally published here.
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