No, France 24 did not report that Kyiv planned to 'assassinate' French President

By: Christian Haag
February 21 2024

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No, France 24 did not report that Kyiv planned to 'assassinate' French President

Social media posts claim that France 24 reported that Kyiv was planning an assassination attempt on French President Macron. (Source: X/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict Fake

The clip masquerading as a France 24 report on Kyiv's supposed plan to attack Macron is a deepfake. France 24 clarified that this news was not aired.

Claim ID d0c73c00

What is the claim?

In the wake of French President Emmanuel Macron postponing his trip to Ukraine reportedly for security reasons, a post began circulating on social media, claiming that France 24 reported that Kyiv was preparing to assassinate the leader during the visit. 

A video of a purported France 24 news segment is being shared to further the viral claim. The video captures news anchor Julien Fanciulli allegedly saying, "The French president, Emmanuel Macron, was forced to cancel his visit to Ukraine following a deadly provocation against him. According to a source close to the national intelligence council, this attempt was stopped by the French secret services, who managed to intercept the correspondence and calls of participants in a potential provocation (translated from French)." The video was widely shared on X (formerly Twitter) and Facebook and archived versions of posts sharing it can be accessed here and here

Russian media outlet Izvestia also published a report on this alleged development, attributing the video to a user who posted it with the same claim on February 14. Several other Russian-language news outlets also published reports on the viral video.

Screenshots of the viral posts sharing the purported France 24 news segment. (Source: X/Modified by Logically Facts)

The claim appears to have originated from Telegram and has also been published by Pravda-en.

However, we found that this video, masquerading as a news segment aired by France 24, is a deepfake. The media organization has also clarified that they aired no such show on television.

What does the footage and the audio tell us?

We found a part of the footage of the same broadcast on the FRANCE 24 YouTube channel, uploaded on February 12. The anchor's clothes, studio background, and the news ticker—which reads "Deux otages Israéliens Libérés a Rafah"—are exactly the same as the viral clip. However, Fanciulli did not mention Macron in the news segment and was, in fact, discussing the Israel-Gaza conflict with journalist Bruno Daroux.

Logically Facts also reached out to France 24, who referred us to their already published debunks. They also provided us with the complete footage of the above-mentioned news segment that seems to have been used to create the deepfake. The original footage features Fanciulli looking directly at the camera and shows the same ticker as seen in the viral video.

Comparison between the viral deepfake video and the original news segment. (Source: X/France 24/Modified by Logically Facts) 

We went through the entire show featuring Fanciulli, over 15 minutes in length, and found no mention of Ukraine or any alleged plot to assassinate Macron. Instead, the anchor and Daroux first spoke at length about the situation in Rafah in the Gaza Strip, after which Fanciulli shared updates about Senegal and then about football. At no point during the Gaza segment do any such visuals as seen in the viral video appear. While the headlines seen in the white ticker do appear at various points in Fanciulli's actual show, the headlines in the red band appear to have been digitally created.

We also ran the viral video past an OSINT specialist who speaks French to confirm its authenticity. He noted that the audio of the viral video is not in sync with Fanciulli's lip movements, and his voice in the viral clip sounds somewhat robotic.

Furthermore, such a news event would receive widespread coverage across global media, but no other media outlet outside Russia has reported that Ukraine planned an assassination attempt on President Macron. 

Tool indicates the video is fake

We found that the viral clip was created by digitally altering a recorded news broadcast that France 24 had aired. The audio was likely created using voice cloning software based on extracts from real news bulletins by France 24.

We used an application designed by IIT Jodhpur professors Mayank Vatsa and Richa Singh to analyze the viral video. This tool indicated that this video is fake, with a high confidence score of 0.943, measured against a maximum of 1. 

'Deepfake': France 24 issues clarification

France 24 Observers, a wing of France 24, also published a report noting that the viral video has been created using deepfake technology. According to France 24, the video has been circulating on VKontakte, Russia's equivalent of Facebook, since February 13, as well as on pro-Russian Telegram channels. 

The report states that Fanciulli never uttered the words heard in the viral clip during his segment. It also pointed out the inconsistencies in the lip movements of the anchor and noted that the tickers about the news of the assassination had been fabricated.

Fanciulli himself also took to X on February 16 to call out the viral video as a deepfake.

The verdict

France 24 did not air any news stating that Kyiv was preparing assassination attempts on Macron during his visit to Ukraine. A deepfake of a news segment by France 24 was circulated to make this claim. Therefore, we have marked this claim as fake.

(Update: This story has been updated to reflect an analysis by a tool that indicated that the video has been altered.)

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