VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Video of ‘zombie apocalypse’ in India, Africa FALSE; shows protest in Ivory Coast

As the world continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, a six-month-old video of an election-related rally in Ivory Coast, a country in West Africa, is falsely being peddled by Filipino Facebook (FB) users as footage of a “zombie apocalypse” in India and in the African continent.

On Jan. 20, a netizen published a 17-second-long clip of people screaming and fleeing from one direction. It was captioned: “ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE nag simula na sa (has begun in) Africa.”

Three days later, four FB pages followed suit and dubiously uploaded the clip at the same time (6:19 a.m.) but placing it in a different location: “ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE nagsimula na sa (has begun in) INDIA???” While many were quick to dismiss it as a joke, some FB users asked, in the comments sections, if the posts were true.

Using reverse image search of the video’s frames, VERA Files Fact Check traced the footage to an Aug. 7, 2020 tweet of LSI Africa, a France-based media organization that reports on news about Africa.

LSI’s French caption stated that the video shows people attacking police in the Bonoua region of Ivory Coast. The locals were protesting against the candidacy of incumbent president Alassane Ouattra in that year’s presidential polls.

(The Ivorian leader eventually won, despite nationwide protests contesting the constitutionality of his bid for a third term.)

News reports about the mass protests in Bonoua were also published by various media outlets like Al Jazeera, Reuters, and Bloomberg around the same time LSI Africa posted its video.

This is not the first time the video of the August 2020 Bonoua protest was used in a wrong context. Agence France-Presse published a fact check article last September debunking online posts saying the video shows “clashes during Nigeria’s recent election in Edo state.”

Video shows more clues of Ivory Coast location

An inspection of the video provides more indications that it was taken in Ivory Coast, including the language spoken in the video and a truck that was caught on camera.

A woman could be heard pleading “s’il vous plait,” which is “please” in French, the official language of the former French colony.

A blue pickup truck could also be seen in the clip bearing the text “Gendarmerie Nationale Brigade Adiake” on its side.

Adiake is a town in the West African country situated approximately 34 km east of Bonoua.

The Gendarmerie Nationale operates under the Ivorian Ministry of Defense and “carries out police missions and operational defense of the territory.”

The erroneous posts carrying the video made rounds on social media as conspiracy theories continue to surround the vaccines developed against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

As of Feb. 8, 131 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have already been administered across 67 countries, according to data collected by Bloomberg.

An Aug. 23, 2020 post by a Filipino FB user is the earliest searchable instance of the Bonoua protest video being peddled in the Philippines as a “zombie apocalypse” event in Africa.

This was revived last Jan. 20 by FB page Angela ML. The succeeding posts by FB pages News Wiz, Movie2Stream, Komedya, and Viral Online were suspiciously uploaded all at the same time, and carried the same link that opens to a local shopping site.

The five FB pages’ false posts have collectively received more than 5,000 reactions, 2,100 comments, and 44,300 shares. Meanwhile, the netizen’s August 2020 post has over 3,400 reactions and 2,900 shares and is still getting traction from social media users until now.

(Editor’s Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)