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Video exaggerates flowery welcome for Macron in French Polynesia

July 27, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: Video shows French President Emmanuel Macron becoming a “human wreath” during his official welcome to French Polynesia, as leis are layered over him from his head to his knees.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The video was manipulated to add numerous garlands beyond those draped around his neck as he arrived in Tahiti for meetings in French Polynesia. News footage from the event shows Macron with leis reaching from his neck to his stomach.

THE FACTS: A manipulated video of Macron arriving on Saturday at Faa’a International Airport in Tahiti is making the rounds on social media. The altered video exaggerates the number of leis bestowed on the president as part of the traditional greeting there.

Video showing the president was altered to make it appear as though Macron was swamped by leis from his head to his knees. Social media users took screenshots of the manipulated video and shared photos of the manipulated image.

The footage being shared online was taken by a journalist with Agence France Presse. In the original clip, Macron has several leis draped over him on him but not to the extent social media users are misrepresenting online. The Associated Press took similar footage of Macron at the airport near Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia.

“Emmanuel Macron is greeted with a welcome ceremony as he begins his first official trip to French Polynesia,” one tweet said sharing the manipulated screenshot of Macron.

The former French colony is made up of five archipelagos with a total of 118 islands. Since 2004, it has autonomous status, defined as “an overseas country within the republic” which “is governed freely and democratically, by its representatives.”

But Macron is still its head of state, and the long-awaited visit is part of what his office calls his “Tour de France” aimed at reaffirming “our proximity to overseas territories.”

Macron began his four-day trip by visiting a hospital in Tahiti to encourage locals to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with Facebook and other platforms to add context to misleading content and reduce its circulation online.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536