​VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Justin Bieber DID NOT send these planes to help quell the Amazon fire

An avid Filipino fan of Canadian pop singer Justin Bieber posted on Facebook that his idol has sent “three private planes” loaded with thousands of liters of water to the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. This is untrue.

The “Belieber,” a term used to call Bieber’s fans, published three images of aircraft pouring water over a fire razing across a forest, and juxtaposed them with a photo of Bieber. The fan then captioned his August 24 post with:

“Justin Bieber sends 3 private plane for Amazon with 80,000 liters of water. A Pure Hearted Guy.”

The post is fake. There is no record of Justin Bieber saying he has sent help, and the images used are from fires that happened years ago.

A reverse image search of each photo reveals the following:

  • The two similar images on the right are photos of planes that can be found in articles published on July 21, 2009 by multiple Spanish news websites about the Collado Mediano forest fire in Spain. A comparative examination of the features of the photos found out they were cropped versions of the original one from the websites.
  • The photo on the lower left was traced to the web archives of the European Pressphoto Agency, a German-based international photo service provider. EPA said the photo was taken on June 18, 2017 by photographer Miguel Lopes while a Spanish Canadair firefighting aircraft was dropping water over the Pedrogao Grande forest fire in Portugal.

Meanwhile, Bieber’s photo is from his verified Twitter and Facebook accounts. Also, there are no posts on the singer's social media accounts nor news reports supporting the fan's post.

The Amazon fire has caught international attention, particularly of well-known personalities, after a number of blazes in the world's largest rainforest were reported increasing to tens of thousands compared to past years.

Celebrities, including actor Leonardo DiCaprio, expressed their sentiments on social media by posting photos allegedly from the forest fire. But Poynter reported that DiCaprio, among others, posted photos not of the Amazon, or images captured from the rainforest but taken years ago.

A similar case also happened to Bieber when he reposted a screenshot of an already debunked post on Instagram. A fact check by Agence France Press (AFP) found out the photo posted was already decades-old, taken in 1989.

The fake Facebook post could have reached more than 56 million social media users. Top traffic generators of the post largely came from Spanish-dominated public Facebook groups REMEDIOS CASEROS Y MEDICINAS NATURALES, Moda y Belleza 2019 and Trenzas y Peinados Salomé.


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About Vera Files

Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

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