Fact-checking claims about China’s censorship during the FIFA World Cup

Tweets suggest Chinese state media has defaced their footage of World Cup fans as a form of censorship. That is not true.

Thousands of protesters are demonstrating in major Chinese cities after the government announced new restrictive measures Zero COVID Measures This includes lockdowns and long quarantine periods. While these protests are taking place in China, Qatar is hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

People on social media claim the Chinese government is censoring footage of bystanders to discourage people in the country from seeing large crowds that aren’t abiding by strict COVID-19 protocols.

A viral tweet said, “BREAKING: Chinese media blur viewers at World Cup in Qatar. They don’t want the Chinese to know that people in other countries don’t wear masks anymore…”

The video posted with the tweet had a clear view of the field as players took their positions or celebrated goals, but the crowd in the stands was blurry. The video was posted from multiple accounts above TwitterCollect millions of views.

THE QUESTION

Did Chinese state media blur viewers at the World Cup as viral tweets claim?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

That's wrong.

No, Chinese state media did not blur viewers at the World Cup in news programs.

WHAT WE FOUND

The Chinese government runs much of the print and broadcast organizations across the country. In an analysis of several of these state media outlets, VERIFY found that the networks or publications were not blurring the masses in their coverage of the World Cup.

The viral video that contained the blurred crowd appears to be from the Douyin account @CMG_yangshipinthe China Central Television (CCTV) social media account. Douyin is the Chinese equivalent of TikTok and owned by the Chinese government.

The video in the viral tweets shows clips from two games of the first World Cup weekend – the game between the USA and Wales and the game between the Netherlands and Senegal.

Using InVid, a video forensics tool, VERIFY analyzed the video’s keyframes and performed a reverse image search of the frames. VERIFY found local Chinese broadcasts from CCTV that contained the same gameplay. In the CCTV reports, the network did not blur the crowd.

The videos included an introduction from the presenter, indicating that it was local coverage highlighting the World Cup, and then transitioned into gameplay.

The 2 second mark of the viral video showing a clip of the USA vs Wales game is the same image seen at the 10 second mark of the CCTV broadcast. The full view of the crowd – not blurry – can be seen in the CCTV feed.

At 23 seconds into the viral blurry effect video showing the Netherlands vs Senegal game, VERIFY matched this frame exactly to the 22 second mark of CCTV footage. Again, the crowd isn’t blurred on CCTV’s site.

New Chinese news agencyalso known as Xinhua News Agency, and ChinaDaily.com are other state news agencies and have not blurred any images of spectators in their coverage of the World Cup. China Global Television Networkalso under the control of the Chinese government, has also printed photos of the crowd.

This isn’t the only claim by Chinese media to censor World Cup footage. There were several accusations The Chinese government is editing live match footage to remove close-up footage of fans. VERIFY could not confirm this as our researchers do not have access to live Chinese match footage.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7N9Rz9TRLBW

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https://www.kvue.com/article/news/verify/sports-verify/chinese-state-media-blurring-world-cup-crowds-fact-check/536-ff8ff788-c1b0-48b8-a3ac-c9fd453fc31b Fact-checking claims about China’s censorship during the FIFA World Cup

Laura Coffey

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