FACT CHECK: Viral Video Claims To Show Missile Striking Beirut

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

A video shared on Facebook purportedly shows a missile striking Beirut’s seaport moments before the massive Aug. 4 explosion.

Verdict: False

The video has been digitally altered to add in a missile.

Fact Check:

Misinformation about the circumstances surrounding the massive Beirut explosion has circulated on social media platforms, according to BBC News.

This particular post claims video with a negative film effect shows a missile striking the Lebanese capital’s port moments before the massive explosion. The caption reads, “Negative clip of the Beirut explosion shows missiles coming in hot.”

But, according to digital forensics and missile experts, the missile has been superimposed into the video. (RELATED: Image Falsely Links Sam Hyde To Beirut Explosion)

Hany Farid, a University of California, Berkeley, professor who focuses on digital forensics, noted to PolitiFact several factors that make it “clearly and obviously a fake.” Among those are factors are the missile lacking motion blur, looking identical in each frame and disappearing before any impact, Farid said. The missile also appears bent in the middle in at least one frame.

“This is a tell-tale sign of a crude copy-paste manipulation in which the missile was pasted into each successive frame,” Farid told PolitiFact.

Jeffrey Lewis, a missile expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, confirmed to The Associated Press that it is “basically a cartoon missile that doesn’t look anything like a real missile striking a target.”

“If it were less amateurish, we could identify the actual missile type, estimate the reentry trajectory and speed, as well as look for digital artifacts,” Lewis said to The Associated Press. “But this isn’t good enough to bother with. This is more derp fake than deep fake.”

Some of the footage that has been manipulated appears to originally come from CNN Arabic. In the unaltered, original CNN Arabic video, there does not appear to be any missile visible. Iterations of the doctored video have been taken down on YouTube and TikTok, according to CNN.

The massive Beirut explosion has been linked to a stockpile of ammonium nitrate stored at the city’s port that is believed to have caught fire, according to NPR. Over 150 people were killed in the blast and thousands of others were wounded, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter
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