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- Marines were present at President Joe Biden’s Sept. 1 speech in Philadelphia.
First came allegations that President Joe Biden hired actors to pose as the U.S. Marines that stood behind him during a recent speech in Philadelphia. (Wrong.)
Then came the claim that there were no Marines at all thanks to some digital sleight of hand.
"Marines??" read the text below a TikTok video shared Sept. 7 on Instagram. "Were they really there?"
The video appears to show someone using a phone to film a TV tuned to a Fox News broadcast. In the broadcast, Biden can be seen onstage at his Sept. 1 speech, with two U.S. Marines standing behind him. The person filming the TV with the phone then draws attention to another phone held by someone recording the speech from the audience.
"Well there’s a person videoing on the phone in the audience and there are no Marines," the person can be heard saying. "There are no Marines there. What is going on?"
"Everything is fake," the caption on the Instagram post said. Other users offered suggestions ranging from "holograms" to "CGI," computer-generated imagery.
The Instagram post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
The screen on the phone in the video is blurry. Though Biden and first lady Jill Biden are visible in the Fox News broadcast, they’re unidentifiable smudges on the phone.
But one Marine is visible, and the other is blocked from the phone’s view by Biden’s podium.
We consulted Wael AbdAlmageed, founding director of the Visual Intelligence and Multimedia Analytics Laboratory at the University of Southern California. After reviewing the clip, AbdAlmageed told us he didn’t see evidence of "malicious manipulation," and pointed out that Marine to Biden’s left "does exist in the extremely low resolution phone camera."
The Marine on the right, meanwhile, "is occluded by the podium, since the person using the phone is lower than and closer to the podium."
Plenty of other cameras clearly captured both Marines. Images from Reuters, the The Associated Press, CNN, the European Pressphoto Agency and Getty Images show both military members standing well behind Biden in the shadows.
We rate claims that Marines weren’t present during Biden’s speech False.
Instagram post, Sept. 7, 2022
PolitiFact, No, Biden didn’t hire actors to pose as U.S. Marines, Sept. 7, 2022
Reuters, 'Perennial battleground' Pennsylvania draws Biden, Trump, Sept. 2, 2022
Associated Press, Joe Biden sounds alarm in Philadelphia speech: Trumpism menaces democracy, Sept. 2, 2022
Email interview with Wael AbdAlmageed, founding director of the Visual Intelligence and Multimedia Analytics Laboratory at the University of Southern California, Sept. 8, 2022
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