In 2021, the VERIFY team tackled difficult topics, answered audience questions and combed the internet for manipulated imagery.
Here is a list of some of VERIFY’s popular photo or video fact-checks.
When the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August, the VERIFY team did multiple stories fact-checking some of the viral images and videos making the rounds across social media.
One photo, in particular, showed the tense situation at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, where a man was photographed handing a child over the wall to a United States Marine. That was real. Omar Haidari, with Reuters, captured the moment on Aug. 19 and posted a video of the baby being handed over a wall.
There’s more to the story than what the image shows, according to Pentagon press secretary John Kirby. At an Aug. 20 press briefing, Kirby said the baby received medical care and then was returned to its family. The family was later evacuated from Kabul, CBS News reported.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and White House chief medical adviser, sat down with Mark Zuckerberg in March 2020 to talk about the state of the COVID-19 pandemic. In December, some Twitter users shared a clip from that discussion and claimed it showed Fauci telling Zuckerberg the vaccine would actually make people worse.
But that clip was being shared out of context.
The actual COVID-19 vaccines had not been developed at the time of that interview, and Fauci was telling Zuckerberg why it’s important to test all vaccines for safety. Fauci was not saying the COVID-19 vaccines would make people worse.
In October, Dr. Francis Collins announced he would be stepping down as director of the National Institutes of Health.
On Dec. 14, a video was shared across social media showing a clip of Collins singing a cover of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” but his version was titled, “Somewhere Past the Pandemic.” On Twitter, users were sharing the video, and some wondered if it was real or a “deepfake.” A deepfake is when an image or recording of a person has been sophisticatedly altered to appear real.
Turns out, it was real! Collins has picked up a guitar and microphone before, and this video was taken during a Health and Human Services town hall.
Crowds gathered en masse across Mexico on Monday, Nov. 1 to have traditional visits to graveyards for annual Day of the Dead celebrations. Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, is a holiday celebrated every year from Oct. 31 through Nov. 2.
One photo claiming to be from a celebration appears to show a huge light show installation created using drones over Mexico City. One tweet posted on Nov. 1 had more than 38,000 retweets and over 350,000 likes as of Nov. 2.
The photo was cool but wasn’t real. That photo was edited to include digital art of a skull wearing a sombrero, and the mountain in the background in the original image is Japan’s Mt. Fuji.
A video went viral across Twitter, YouTube and Facebook claiming to show a child screaming an expletive during First Lady Dr. Jill Biden’s holiday book reading.
It wasn’t real.
To confirm the audio was manipulated, VERIFY analyzed audio from a YouTube video with the child yelling and compared it to the original network pool footage from the reading. Audio of the child yelling can be traced back to at least 2019, when “an angry little kid” went viral for yelling profanity at his teacher during a preschool graduation.
More from VERIFY: The 5 most-read COVID-19 VERIFY stories in 2021