Riot video of Marseille library actually shows fire at Manila post office

5 July 2023
What was claimed

A video shows the burning of the Alcazar library in Marseille during the recent riots in France.

Our verdict

The video shows a fire that severely damaged the Manila Central Post Office in the Philippines in May.

Posts on Twitter and Facebook show a video of a large building on fire with captions implying it shows a library in Marseille, France being damaged during protests and riots in the country after a police officer fatally shot 17-year-old Nahel M.

Many of the posts have similar captions, which say: “In Marseille, migrants burned one of the largest libraries in France. The Alcazar Library's collection contained almost a million documents, 350,000 of which were in the public domain. In particular, medieval manuscripts and unique editions.”

But the video shows a fire that ripped through the Central Post Office in Manila, in the Philippines, in May. The Associated Press reported at the time that seven people “sustained minor injuries or were overwhelmed by thick smoke”.

Other videos taken of the fire show it is clearly the same grand building featured in these recent social media posts and not the Alcazar library in Marseille, which looks completely different.

Several of the videos on Facebook have a watermark saying “GLOBAL_Telegram_MOKED”. There is a Telegram channel by that name that shared the watermarked video on 5 July. The caption in Hebrew (translated to English by Google) repeats the false claim, saying: “The Palace Library, the largest library in Marseille, in southern France, was burned in clashes between police and rioters”.

The Alcazar library was vandalised during the recent unrest in France. It has since reopened, and Full Fact could find no evidence that anything in the library’s collection was damaged.

Local news outlet La Marseillaise reported that the windows and the entrance hall were damaged but did not mention a fire inside the building. The head of the library’s daytime security team told the newspaper that there hadn’t been much damage inside compared to the rest of the neighbourhood.

The claims in the post about the library having almost a million documents of which 350,000 are in the public domain, medieval manuscripts and unique documents appears to come from an article published in a book industry magazine in 2019 about the library temporarily closing due to bedbugs. 

Separate videos on social media appear to show a flare near or just inside the entrance to the library. Another local news outlet reported that a “smoke bomb” had been thrown inside.

Events like the unrest in France are often a breeding ground for misinformation, including misleading images and videos. We’ve written about a video of a fire in the UAE, plus photos of a previous ‘gilets jaunes’ protest and the Euro 2016 final that people online are falsely claiming show current events in France.

We have guides here on how to check what you’re seeing is genuine.

Image courtesy of McpoJMdeLeon

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