Video of French president dancing in nightclub is a deepfake

26 March 2024
What was claimed

A video shows clips of the French President Emmanuel Macron dancing at a nightclub.

Our verdict

The footage has been altered using AI to create a deepfake, where Mr Macron’s face has been superimposed onto archive clips of various dancers at a California nightclub.

A video allegedly showing a compilation of old clips of the French President dancing in a nightclub has been digitally altered.

The footage, which has been shared on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter) and Youtube appears to show a young Emmanuel Macron dancing while wearing a variety of outfits and with different hairstyles.

Some people sharing the clip have said: “Video has emerged showing French President Emmanuel Macron BEFORE HE ENTERED POLITICS, dancing in Gay clubs, wearing women’s clothing, bras, even Devil Horns! THIS is who leads a country!?”

There are a number of clues this isn’t genuine footage. A caption with one Facebook version of the video claims it comes from a discotheque in France in 1987, but at that time Mr Macron would have been around nine years old

The clip features footage of people dancing in the 1980s, which has been modified using artificial intelligence (AI) tools to superimpose President Macron’s face onto the dancers, to create what is known as a ‘deepfake’.

Honesty in public debate matters

You can help us take action – and get our regular free email

Where is the video from?

Videos showing the dancers without Mr Macron’s face have been on Youtube for many years, where they are said to show a club night at Stratus Dance Club in California in the United States.

According to the descriptions, the footage comes from around 1986-87. 

The clips allegedly showing the French President have been taken from several different videos filmed at Stratus Dance Club, with his face added, and some of the footage has been edited, mirrored and cropped.

At 16 seconds in he appears to have long blonde hair and to be wearing a green silk shirt—but the original video shows this was actually a woman. This is also the case at 22 seconds.

Dealing with deepfakes

Increasingly realistic deepfakes—where AI tools are used to mimic the face or voice of a public figure—are making it ever harder to tell whether these kinds of videos are real, but there are often clues that they may be altered or faked. 

In this case, these include the face being out of proportion to the rest of the head or body or its movement being disjointed.

At one point in the altered video it even appears that there are three people who have Mr Macron’s face. 

If you want to know whether something online might have been digitally altered using AI, our guide to deepfake video and audio provides practical tools to tell whether it is genuine.

We have previously fact checked other deepfakes, including videos falsely claiming to show the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy belly dancing at an 18th birthday party, and Labour leader Keir Starmer promoting an investment scheme.

Image courtesy of European Parliament

Full Fact fights bad information

Bad information ruins lives. It promotes hate, damages people’s health, and hurts democracy. You deserve better.