Picture of Emmanuel Macron in front of fire is AI-generated

6 July 2023
What was claimed

French President Emmanuel Macron has been photographed in front of a fire during the recent riots in his country.

Our verdict

This is an AI-generated image.

A picture circulating on social media appears to show French President Emmanuel Macron sitting on a chair in the middle of the street, a pile of rubbish burning behind him. 

This isn’t a real photo—it appears to have been created using Artificial Intelligence (AI). 

Full Fact was unable to find any evidence the president sat for such a picture, and it bears a resemblance to other AI images that have been shared online amid the recent riots in France. 

We have found versions of the images shared online since as early as March. 

There has been widespread unrest in the country since 27 June, when a police officer shot and killed a 17-year-old named Nahel M in a Paris suburb during a traffic stop. 

We have not been able to find the original version of the AI picture of Mr Macron sitting in the street, but searches online have revealed many examples of people using AI software such as the popular Midjourney app to create similar images. 

We have previously fact checked a number of posts about the use of AI, including false claims that Prince William and Prince Harry reunited at King Charles III’s coronation and that debris from the wreckage of the Titan submersible had been photographed

News stories of significant public interest, such as the recent riots in France, can become a breeding ground for online misinformation. 

Since the unrest in France broke out we have written a number of fact checks on misleading claims, including false claims that the UK government has warned people not to travel to the country, that protesters released animals from Paris Zoo and that a video of a fire in the UAE was taken in France. 

It’s always worth checking whether content is real before you share it. You can read more about how to spot AI-generated images using our guide here

Many of the false claims we’ve checked about the unrest in France have centred on misleading images and videos. They are some of the most common kinds of misinformation we see online, but they can sometimes be hard to spot—so we have written guides on how to spot them here and here

Image courtesy of Jacques Paquier

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