Image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi sitting next to Rihanna is fake

By: Rajini KG
June 25 2023

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Image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi sitting next to Rihanna is fake


The Verdict False

An image of Rihanna from 2017 and a picture of the Indian prime minister from 2019 were clubbed together digitally and shared with false narratives.

Claim ID d63d47c0


In the wake of Indian Prime Minister Modi’s maiden State visit to the United States, a photo of him sitting next to Barbadian pop sensation Rihanna is doing rounds on social media. In the photograph, Modi, who concluded his U.S. trip on June 23 before heading for Egypt, seems to be looking at Rihanna in a rather unpleasant manner. Several users took potshots at the Indian prime minister while sharing the photo. One such Twitter post had garnered over 124,000 views and over 200 likes at the time of publishing. However, the image is fake. 

In Fact

We cropped the viral photograph splitting it vertically, and then performed a reverse image search separately on Modi’s and Rihanna’s images.

We found that Rihanna’s original image dates back to 2017 and does not have Modi in the frame. Getty Images, a stock photos website, published the original photograph on February 28, 2017. Its caption read: "Rihanna receives the 2017 Harvard University Humanitarian of the Year Award at Harvard University's Sanders Theatre on February 28, 2017 in Cambridge, Massachusetts." Photographer Paul Marotta was credited for taking the photograph. Rihanna's posture, attire, and accessories match the viral image. 

Harvard Foundation had published the event's video on its YouTube channel on March 1, 2017. At the 37:05 timestamp, we can see Rihanna and other delegates present at the award ceremony as she received Peter J. Gomes's Humanitarian Award for her work related to health and education. This video also does not show PM Modi attending the event or sharing the stage with Rihanna.

We also found that Facebook user 'Anil furniture industries' had posted an image of PM Modi showing the leader with the same clothes, posture, and background as the viral photo. The image depicted Modi sitting beside an empty chair and looking down to his right. The photo was shared on May 2020, suggesting that Modi’s original image is also old.  

Modi’s photo appears to have been taken at a national trade convention held in 2019. Kottayam-based website ‘Prokerala’ had shared multiple images from the convention held at Talkatora Stadium in New Delhi. In the photographs, PM Modi can be seen wearing the same set of clothes as in the viral image.

According to the website, the images were taken during Narendra Modi’s address to businesspeople in New Delhi's Talkatora Stadium on April 19, 2019. The Bharatiya Janata Party had live-streamed the event on its YouTube channel on the same day. We went through the video and could not spot Rihanna anywhere. 

We also came across no news reports, announcements, press releases, or statements about PM Modi meeting Rihanna. It is evident that two separate photographs were clubbed together digitally to show Rihanna and Modi together.  

The Verdict

The viral image was created through digital manipulation and shared with a false claim. 

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Global Fact-Checks Completed

We rely on information to make meaningful decisions that affect our lives, but the nature of the internet means that misinformation reaches more people faster than ever before