Men burning tyres in the middle of a highway and clashing with France’s riot police: a recent Facebook post would have you believe that migrants are “destroying France”. The post, in Spanish, was viewed more than two million times in just a few days. But the video actually shows something completely different: a protest by French taxi drivers.
The video was published on August 28 and shows a group of people, most of whom are wearing scarves to hide their faces, trying to disrupt traffic on a highway. The group burns tyres in the middle of the road to block the traffic. Riot police then arrive, using tear gas and arresting a number of people.
The video caption says that it shows “Muslim refugees in France destroying” the country. The post was shared 48,000 times in just under a week. The logos on the video seem to indicate that it comes from the British broadcaster Channel 4 and that it was filmed in Paris.
This is a copy of the video; the original post was deleted by the user. FRANCE 24 has archived the original post here.
Does this video show refugees disrupting traffic in France? FALSE.
To find out where this video comes from, the first thing to do is to type some keywords into a search engine. If we ignore what the caption says, what basic information do we have?
- The video seems to come from Channel 4 News.
- It was filmed on a highway.
- It appears to shows some sort of protest.
By typing the keywords "Channel 4 news highway demonstration", a video comes up that was posted on the official Facebook page of Channel 4 News. It was published on January 26, 2016, and is titled, "Paris taxi protest brings rush hour traffic to standstill". The protest had nothing to do with migrants.
When verifying online information, it is always good practice to try and find a second credible source that says the same thing. So we typed, “manifestation taxi 26 janvier vidéo” - French for “protest taxi 26 January video” - and found the same information, along with extracts from the same video, on the website of French newspaper Le Parisien. Its article explains that the scene took place near Porte Maillot in Paris.
A video often used as part of anti-migrant propaganda
It’s not the first time we’ve seen this video. It regularly resurfaces, in various languages and usually on anti-migrant pages.
Example of a post in German that circulated online at the end of January 2016. It says, "In Paris, asylum seekers are starting protests".
In February 2016, the video made the rounds online in Germany, with claims that that it depicted “African Muslims causing problems in Paris”. It popped up again in February 2017, still with the same caption, but this time in the Czech Republic.
More recently, in August 2018, it was taken up by an American Facebook page. The caption read, “Muslim refugees in France: why we don’t want them in the United States of America".
The caption reads: “Paris, yesterday evening… But you have to look at foreign TV stations. In France, Macron’s media censures the truth.”
Interestingly, the video was circulated in March 2017 for an entirely different reason, according to French fact-checking website Les Decodeurs du Monde. French Internet users shared it to claim that disorder broke out the day before a big demonstration in Paris organised by the families of victims of police violence.
So watch out for this video and others like it, which surface regularly as a way to incite hatred against Muslims or migrants. To know more about how to verify what you see online, check out our fact-checking guide below!
This article was written by FRANCE 24 journalist Alexandre Capron (@alexcapron).