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A woman from Lviv in a swastika trick? An elephant carrying lion cubs? Manipulators pretend

Hundreds and thousands of shares of manipulated photos that tell false stories using collages spread across Czech social networks and other disinformation channels again in April. One such picture tries to convince people that in Lviv, Ukraine, people normally wear swastikas, another tries to lure gullible users to a made-up story about a Samaritan elephant.

Fake news. Illustrative image

| Photo: Shutterstock

Not everything that spreads in the environment social networks, is true, and it applies not only to the written word, but also to videos and photos. In April, users of these networks could convince themselves of this several times.

“Today’s Lviv. City of European Culture. And where is Ukraine headed? To NATO or to the EU? Hopefully, if they didn’t get the symbolism wrong!!!” on Wednesday, April 10, 2024, the disinformation website Pravda CZ commented ironically on a picture of an everyday street in the city, where in the background there was a woman in a red T-shirt with a swastika. The Telegram channel, named InfoDefenseCZE, was cited as the alleged source of the photo.

Recently, even the Ukrainian president became the target of misinformation:


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi

Zelensky bought the residence of the British king, pro-Russian disinformers spread. It’s a lie

At the same time, the photo went viral on social networks. On Thursday, April 11, it was shared on Facebook, for example disinformation site Bohemia patriot – Alliance of the Round Table with 17 thousand followers, on the social network X it was shared, for example, by the disinformation account Roman Malý cz (@MatesRoman) with approximately 1,500 followers or another disinformation account Nothing to see (@Wagnersfamily) with 11.8 thousand followers. It also started to spread massively on the Russian social network Vkontakte.

In the vast majority of cases, it was accompanied by a similarly ironic comment, as used by the website Pravda CZ, both in Russian and in various European languages.

According to other social network users, this is a lie and manipulation, because in the original picture the woman was only wearing a red T-shirt. The swastika was added to the photo as an afterthought.

How to Diary managed to verify according to the marquee of the Alchemist esoteric shop, captured in the foreground of the picture, that the original photo was actually taken in the Ukrainian city of Lviv, namely on Lviv Street Svoboda, where the esoteric shop with identical banner. House number 23 and the location of the windows and balconies on the houses in the background also correspond to this, as well as the position of the next Welfare shop, located in the side entrance to the right of number 23.

The authenticity of the photo, where the woman is wearing only a red T-shirt without a swastika, is evidenced by the natural folds on the T-shirt across the entire width of the T-shirt. In the photo with the swastika, when enlarged, it is noticeable that the cross itself is without folds, which end unnaturally at its edge, which indicates that it was artificially and additionally inserted into the picture.

Actor Ondřej Vetchý became the target of further misinformation:


Actor Ondřej Vetchý once again became the target of disinformation

Ondřej Vetchý is the target of another attack. The false video credits him with admiring Bander

According to Google’s reverse image search feature, both images began appearing on social media around the middle of last week, with the photo montage featuring a swastika embedded in it circulating mainly on Russian and pro-Russian channels. However, it is not clear when the original photograph was taken and who is its author.

According to press department of the Ukrainian police applies to Ukraine the ban on the use of symbols of totalitarian regimes, which, according to Article 436-1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, also applies to the production and dissemination of symbols of national socialist (Nazi) regimes or their promotion, and its violation is punishable by imprisonment for up to five years.

The case of the elephant

Another example of photo manipulation appears at first glance to be more “harmless”: in recent days, thousands of Facebook and X network users shared a picture that appeared to be a unique shot from the African savannahdepicting an elephant carrying a lion cub on its trunk and accompanied by a peacefully walking lioness, the mother of that lion cub.

Source: DiaryThe comment attached to the picture was also intended to give users this impression, according to which the elephant “understood” that the lioness had a problem walking in the heat, so he took the lioness in his trunk to carry them to the pond accompanied by the lioness.

The story was, of course, completely fictional, and the photo was created by photomontage, in which several different shots were combined into one image. In reality, the depicted event never happened. According to agency AFP the photo montage was created a few years ago only as an April Fool’s joke, but since 2018 it has repeatedly returned to social networks in waves as an allegedly true story.

A picture of screaming Ukrainian girls? Even in this case it is a forgery:


A new lie is spreading on social networks again, the wives of fighters of the Azov Battalion, including the wife of its commander, are said to be screaming in the picture.  In reality, it is someone completely different

Another lie is spreading on the Internet: the photo of screaming girls is not from Ukraine

Although users who use this a similar photo montages they share as reality, so they mostly do it out of good will and out of a desire to share a heart-wrenching story, the reasons why these false manipulations arise are usually not so innocent. They often test how much specific people on social networks are prone to believe various manipulations. If it turns out that they are, the social network system will start pushing them more fake news.

“Relying on emotion promotes belief in fake news. We found both correlational and causal evidence that appeals to people to rely on emotion lead to greater belief in fake news than when they are urged to rely on reason. Emotional processing of information may play a unique role in susceptibility to fake news,” the site states Cognitive Research Journal scientists Cameron Martel, Gordon Pennycook and David G. Rand, authors of a study on this topic.



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