Video shows climate protest in Austria, not war report in Ukraine
CLAIM: Footage of a person moving under a “body bag” shows misleading news coverage of the war in Ukraine.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The video shows protesters participating in a climate change-related demonstration in Austria in early February, and has no connection to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Some iterations of the video spreading online are edited to add audio from real NBC News coverage of the conflict and a fake news chyron to the unrelated visuals from Austria.
THE FACTS: Television news coverage of a climate change protest in Austria that has been misrepresented online in the past has circulated widely again in recent days, with social media users falsely claiming that the video shows reporting on the conflict in Ukraine.
In the video clip, a reporter speaks directly into the camera while standing in front of what appear to be black body bags arranged on the ground in rows. One person can be seen moving underneath the material.
Social media users have shared the original Austrian news report, claiming that it shows coverage of the war in Ukraine, while some have even suggested that the video was staged. “Ukrainian TV reporting on dead bodies, one corpse decided to fix its body bag,” one Twitter user who shared the clip wrote on Friday.
Another iteration of the video circulating widely has been edited to add audio from a real news report on Ukraine and a chyron reading: “UKRAINIAN HEALTH MINISTRY: 57 DEAD, 169 HURT ACROSS UKRAINE AS RUSSIA LAUNCHES ATTACK.” The audio is taken from a Feb. 24 English-language NBC News report on Russia’s invasion, and captures correspondent Cal Perry saying that “at least 59 people” had been killed.
As the AP reported in February, the original footage actually shows authentic news coverage of a climate change protest that was recorded on Feb. 4, 2022, in Ballhausplatz, a square located in central Vienna, the capital of Austria. The Austrian news station Oe24 was covering protesters who argued that the country’s government was not doing enough to reduce emissions.
A translation of the original news chyron on the clip reads “Vienna: demo against climate policy.” The reporter says in German that the protest was organized by Fridays for Future, a climate justice group. According to the Oe24 reporter, the 49 covered bodies represented the number of people the group predicts will die every day due to the consequences of climate change.
The video has been misrepresented online in the past, as the AP has previously reported. In February, some social media users falsely claimed that it showed crisis actors posing as people who died due to COVID-19.
The clip circulated over the weekend as the war reached its 11th day and Russian troops shelled encircled cities, the AP reported Sunday. The U.N. human rights office said that at least 364 civilians have been killed since the invasion began, but the true tally is likely higher.
Associated Press writer Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed to this report.
This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.