Eiffel tower

Fictitious video shared in posts falsely claiming ‘the Eiffel Tower was bombed’

Copyright AFP 2017-2022. All rights reserved.

A video that appears to show explosions in the French capital, Paris, has been viewed thousands of times in misleading social media posts that claim it shows a real attack on the Eiffel Tower. The messages suggest the attack was carried out by Russian forces in response to sanctions from foreign powers following its invasion of neighboring Ukraine. The images, however, were shared in a false context: they show a fictional film created by a French director which was later shared online by Ukrainian officials in a bid to urge European authorities to impose a zone of no-fly over Ukraine.

The video was shared on a TikTok post here on March 16, 2022. It has been viewed over 5,000 times.

The video claims to show a woman posing for a photo in front of the Eiffel Tower before she appeared to be hit by an explosion.

A fighter plane then appears to be flying overhead.

The Indonesian text superimposed on the video translates to English as: “EIFFEL TOWER BOMBARDED”.

Screenshot of misleading post, taken March 23, 2022

The caption reads: “Does Indonesia want to participate in the imposition of sanctions against Russia?”

The video has been viewed over 12,900 times in posts with a similar claim on TikTok here, here and here; on YouTube here and here; and on Facebook here.

The messages circulated after Western powers, including the European Union, imposed sanctions on Russia following its invasion of neighboring Ukraine, AFP reported here.

However, the images are shared in a false context.

Keyword searches revealed that a longer version of the video was shared here by the official Ukrainian parliament Twitter account on March 11, 2022 local time.

The caption of the post reads: “Would the famous Eiffel Tower in #Paris or the Brandenburg Gate in #Berlin remain standing under the endless bombardment of Russian troops? Do you think this does not concern you?

“Today it’s #Ukraine, tomorrow it’s all of #Europe. Russia will stop at nothing.”

The end of the video also includes text that reads in part: “Just think if this were to happen in another European capital… Shut down the skies over Ukraine or give us fighter jets.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged NATO and the United States to impose a no-fly zone over his country.

The video was also shared on Twitter by Ukraine’s Defense Ministry and on Facebook by the country’s Minister of Culture and Information Policy.

“A film about a possible future”

French newspaper Le Monde reported on March 14, 2022 that the video was created by Olias Barco, a French screenwriter, director and film producer based in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv.

Barco uploaded the video to their Instagram account here on March 11, 2022.

Below are screenshot comparisons of the video in the misleading post (left) and the genuine video uploaded to Instagram (right):

Screenshot comparisons of the video in the misleading post (left) and the authentic video on Instagram (right)

Barco told Le Monde that the Ukrainian government did not ask him to direct the video, but that he created it with producer Jean-Charles Lévy on their own “to give the West a wake-up call”. .

“In my opinion, we are living in a third world war and this conflict will spread,” he said. “It’s a film about a possible future, not a propaganda film.”

AFP also denied misleading claims circulating in Serbian that the video is an example of fake news produced and disseminated by Ukrainian officials.