Pic Debunking Photo of Paris Riots Proven False After Going Viral

By Kehl Bayern / December 12, 2018

That headline was a doozy to write, but here goes with keeping this story straight.

Many of us in the photography world follow the news, and the riots in Paris are a particularly photography-worthy moment in time.

Image via Agence France Presse FactCheck Twitter Account.

Producing some stark images of people power in action, the Paris protests, as well as those outside of the French capital city, are among the biggest stories this year and, being political, it is producing a ton of false narratives in its wake.

One of these false narratives involved the supposed debunking of a viral video that spread across the Internet showing a fire raging in front of the Arc de Triomphe. The photo debunking this image shows a small pile of wood burning and says that “perspective matters.”

People on the web naturally latched on to this later explanation as yet further proof that the riots were being overblown by the media.

Of course, other facts matter as well, such as when the photos were taken. The original viral photo was taken before the debunking photo, proving that the second photo could not be just another perspective of the first.

And we have Agence France Presse to thank for this investigative reporting.

The French news agency stated in its tweet quoted by PetaPixel, “Perspective matters, and so do dates and places… because these two photos were taken on two different days in two different places, in Paris. …Criticism of media coverage is legitimate, but this isn’t the best example of it. …These photos were taken on 2 different days in 2 separate places… and AFP did not find a single photo combining a scooter on fire and the Arc de Triomphe in the background.”

Manipulating images for political gain is nothing new, but social media has given the game a whole new spin.


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About the author

Kehl Bayern

Kehl Bayern is our staff news writer and has over a decade of experience in online media and publishing. In terms of photography, he is interested in architecture and modern design. Kehl Bayern is also the author of science fiction thriller Animus Proxy. He is based in Boston, Massachusetts and studied politics at the University of Virginia and, later, Harvard University for graduate school. He spends much of his time traveling up and down the east coast of the United States. You can follow him on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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