Pakistan was recently hit by violent protests from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) workers and supporters following the arrest of their leader Imran Khan. However, amidst the protests and chaos, widespread misinformation surfaced online. A photo and two videos were circulated, depicting state brutality and bravery of political protesters respectively.
The photo, which shows a woman standing before riot police, was actually an Artificial Intelligence-generated image. One video showed a crowd confronting police, while the other depicted a group carrying coffins, which were shared extensively with claims that the coffins contained the bodies of PTI protesters who died during the demonstrations.
However, the French news channel France 24 pointed out the obvious giveaways that the image and videos were not real or from Pakistan. The media outlet’s journalist, Vedika Bahl, who hosts a news segment called Truth or Fake, investigated the origins of the image and videos circulated by workers and supporters of the PTI.
Bahl explained that the image was being circulated across Twitter as a symbol of resistance against the country’s riot police. She confirmed that the image was generated through AI and traced back its creator, a Twitter user named Abdullah Saad. Bahl also showed how AI always has trouble drawing hands which gave away the fact that the image was not real. She also pointed out that the riot police shown in the image looked nothing like the real police who were tackling protesters on the streets.
Regarding the videos, Bahl showcased two different videos that were being claimed to show PTI protesters’ resistance across TikTok, Twitter, and other social media platforms. However, one of the videos was actually of 1,000 Honduran migrants moving towards the US border seeking asylum, while the other one was from a recent shooting incident in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Parachinar, where seven people were gunned down in a government school’s staffroom.
Thus, despite the widespread misinformation, French media debunked the false information surrounding the PTI protests.