Tohidul Islam Raso

Research Officer, Dismislab
Fact-Checked thrice, distorted video still spreads on Facebook via Ads
This article is more than 4 months old

Fact-Checked thrice, distorted video still spreads on Facebook via Ads

Tohidul Islam Raso

Research Officer, Dismislab

Recently, a video clip featuring a speech by Begum Khaleda Zia, Chairperson of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), has been circulating on the social media platform Facebook. This video has taken the form of both regular video uploads and short reels. In the clip, Khaleda Zia addresses various topics related to her party’s movement, her son Tarique Rahman, and her daughter-in-law. The video has been circulating annually since 2018 on Facebook. However, the video was created by cutting and joining different portions of a speech given by Khaleda Zia in London in 2015. This distorted video was fact-checked by three different fact-checking organisations. Despite that, the video has resurfaced on Facebook, and notably, it is now being distributed through Facebook advertisements.

In that video, Khaleda Zia is heard saying, “No matter how much you talk about the movement, there were no significant movements taking place in Dhaka. Here, there is turmoil within the family as well. You all know Tarique Rahman. He has problem with his wife. His wife wants power, he also wants power.” The caption of the video, which was circulated through Facebook advertisement recently, reads, “Corruption and trouble are in one’s own family. She wants to manage the country again!”

This video was advertised on a page named “বর্ণিল নবাবগঞ্জ-Bornil Nobabgonj” from November 26 to December 1 and received 70-80 thousand impressions. That is, the video has been shown to 70-80 thousand people on Facebook. Also, the video has been shared on multiple Facebook IDs and pages.

According to Dismislab’s investigation, the oldest version of the video was found in 2018  (1, 2, 3). Simultaneously, similar videos were uploaded on YouTube (1, 2), and several news outlets (1, 2) also published reports concerning the video. A news article said, in response to the video’s circulation, BNP expressed anger, condemning the release of such content. Additionally, Khaleda Zia’s press wing asserted that the video was “fabricated.”

The video with the same caption went viral in 2019, 2020, and 2021. Additionally, the same video has been shared every year since 2018 with different captions.

Boom Bangladesh, Facebook’s third-party fact-checking organisation, published the first fact-check report on this edited video in November 2021. The report said, several parts of Khaleda Zia’s speech were joined together without context to create the video. Khaleda Zia gave that speech at the Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel in London on November 1, 2015. Even with the help of technology, separate words have been added to the 19-second video.

In December 2021, another fact-checking organisation, Fact-Watch published a fact-check report on the same video. They also concluded that the video was “distorted.” It’s worth noting that Fact-Watch also works as a third-party fact-checking agency for Facebook. Despite being verified twice in 2021, the video reappeared on Facebook in 2022. Following this recurrence, Rumor Scanner, another third-party fact-checking organisation, conducted a fact-check. Rumor Scanner concluded that “The video distorts the presentation by combining two different segments of the speech” in their findings.

Despite undergoing fact-checking on three separate occasions in 2021 and 2022, the same distorted and edited video has resurfaced on Facebook in 2023. Previously, the video was primarily shared as posts across various groups and profiles. However, in November, it not only continued to be disseminated through regular posts but was also distributed as advertisements. This shift in distribution methods has enabled the video to reach a large number of social media users. 

Instances of distorted and false statements about politicians circulating on social media are not isolated incidents. Two additional examples involve campaigns centered around distorting Khaleda Zia’s speech. In 2020, BOOM Bangladesh published a fact-check report on one such distorted statement by Khaleda Zia. This year, Boom Bangladesh released another fact-check report on a different distorted speech by Khaleda Zia. Furthermore, in 2021, a fact-check report identified that a video clip featuring a speech by the Prime Minister’s ICT affairs adviser, Sajeeb Wazed Joy, had been circulating on Facebook, ultimately being labeled as “distorted”.