Have you seen that viral video of people farting in public, captured by China’s thermal imaging cameras that are on the hunt for coronavirus? It’s completely fake.
China’s state media outlet the Global Times tweeted out the video, suggesting it showed people at train stations and airports in China, where health authorities are monitoring people for the coronavirus, which has killed 427 people and sickened over 20,000 more. But the video is actually from 2016 and the farts have been added digitally.
“Can’t help farting? Well, better try harder, because infrared temperature sensors recently installed in airports and train stations to monitor temperatures of passengers amid #coronavirus outbreak can screen them all,” the Global Times tweeted late Monday.
The video was originally created in 2016 by an online group called Banana Factory before it was shared elsewhere by websites like LadBible and Reddit. The Global Times, which is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, appears to have gotten the video from a recent upload on TikTok.
The TikTok user took the original video created by Banana Factory, cropped out the Banana Factory watermark, and added video from thermal imaging cameras based in China at the end.
Below we see the original fake, before the Banana Factory branding was cropped out.
Even the original creators of the video, Banana Factory, eventually admitted it was fake back in 2016 after racking up more than 9 million views.
“This video was shot on FLIR thermal camera. Every thermal footage is authentic, only farts are edited digitally,” Banana Factory said in its YouTube video.
But if that’s not enough evidence for you, we can turn to the Mythbusters, who tackled this viral video during an episode from February of 2016. You can watch their experiment on YouTube, proving that you can’t actually see farts on a thermal image scan.
Chinese media isn’t very reliable in general, but state-run outlets like CGTN seem to have been taking the threat of the new coronavirus seriously in recent weeks. This video from Global Times, however, could erode trust in the things we’re hearing out of China, a place where the authoritarian government has already lied about a number of issues relevant to public health during the earliest days of the coronavirus crisis.
The situation in China continues to get worse. More cases of the novel coronavirus, officially known as 2019-nCoV, are popping up every day and China’s National Health Commission reports that the virus has a mortality rate of roughly 2.1 percent, though in Hubei province, the home of Wuhan, the rate is closer to 3 percent.
China’s Health Commission also reports that roughly 80 percent of fatalities from the virus have been in people over the age of 60. And 75 percent of those who died from the coronavirus had some kind of underlying condition that made their health situation worse, according to the Guardian.
U.S. airlines have cancelled flights to and from China for the next few months and everyone seems to be preparing for a long fight against the virus. If there’s anything we can be certain of, it’s that more fake viral photos and videos will surface in the coming weeks. But hopefully China’s state media outlets aren’t the ones spreading them.
People need to be able to trust media right now if we’re going to get through a serious outbreak. Even if the subject is just farts.