FACT CHECK: Does This Video Show New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Smoking?

Mecca Fowler | Contributor

A video shared on Twitter and Facebook purportedly shows New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern smoking from a pipe.

Verdict: False

The video is a “deepfake” created by superimposing Ardern’s face over another person smoking cannabis.

Fact Check:

The video features a split-screen of two separate sets of footage, one of which purports to show Ardern smoking from what looks like a glass pipe. In the other clip, which is genuine, the New Zealand prime minister speaks with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates at a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation event in 2019.

“NEW ZEALANDS PRIME MINISTER SMOKING CRACK,” reads the caption of the Facebook post. The tweet includes a similar caption. (RELATED: Did New Zealand’s Government Tell A Public Broadcaster To Censor Anti-Government Comments On Its Social Media Platforms?)

Through a keyword search, Check Your Fact found the video of Ardern supposedly smoking posted on YouTube by the channel Genuine Fake back in October 2020. On the channel’s “About” page, it states that it posts “Deepfake models of Celebrities/ Politicians.” A “deepfake” is a realistic-looking but fake video produced using artificial intelligence, according to CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

A video posted on YouTube in May 2019 shows a background that matches the one visible in the “deepfake” video, but it features a different woman. In the video, the woman does ASMR and smokes marijuana from a glass pipe. That video looks to have been used as a base for the creation of the “deepfake” one.

During a debate in 2020, Ardern admitted to having used cannabis “a long time ago,” The New York Times reported.

Mecca Fowler



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