Video of Bella Hadid supporting Israel is a deepfake
The original video is from 2016
Claim: Model Bella Hadid has spoken in favour of Israel, apologising for her past remarks about the country.
Fact: The clip was created by altering an old video, using deepfake technology. The original video is from 2016 when the model spoke about her challenges growing up with Lyme disease at the Global Lyme Alliance Gala in New York.
Fact or Fiction?
On 29 October, X (formerly Twitter) user Danel Ben Namer (@DanelBenNamer) shared a video claiming it shows Hadid voicing her support for Israel following the attack by Hamas on 7 October.
“Bella Hadid stands with Israel. Sinwar didn’t expect to get this surprise for his 61 birthday #WeFixedItForBella,” the tweet reads.
The model can be heard saying the following in the 28-second video clip:
“Hi, it’s Bella Hadid. On October 7th, 2023, Israel faced a tragic attack by Hamas. I cannot stay silent. I apologise for my past remarks. This tragy [tragedy] has opened my eyes to the pain endured here and I stand with Israel against terror. I have taken time to truly learn the historical context. Now with a clear understanding I hope we can engage in constructive dialogue moving forward. Thank you,”
We noticed that X has rated the video as “Manipulated media”, this is because the platform prohibits the sharing of content that is synthetic, manipulated, or presented without proper context, as it can mislead or confuse people and potentially cause harm.
Soch Fact Check conducted a reverse-image search of key frames of the video, which led us to a 3-minute and 27 seconds-long YouTube clip uploaded on 31 October 2018 by Global Lyme Alliance (GLA). The video titled “Bella Hadid’s 2016 Global Lyme Alliance New York Gala Speech” shows the supermodel talking about what it was like to grow up living with Lyme disease. GLA’s website states that it is a nonprofit dedicated to fighting Lyme disease through research, awareness, and patient services.
A closer look at some visual clues helped ascertain that the video shared on social media is a deepfake, a technology which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to generate videos in which an individual’s face or body is manipulated.
Firstly, Hadid appears to be wearing identical attire, jewellery, and makeup in both the original and altered videos.
Additionally, as AI technology progresses and visual clues become less discernible in deepfake videos, verbal mistakes like mispronouncing words can be helpful in determining the authenticity of the content, according to the BBC. In the said video, we noticed that Hadid mispronounces tragedy as “tragy”.
In deepfake videos, lip and facial movements often appear constrained and mechanised, lacking genuine expressions, and the face often has a strange, unnatural appearance. Both of these qualities can be observed in the video under question.
How are deepfakes created?
An article published by Bloomberg stated that creating deepfakes involves training an algorithm through ‘deep learning’ of actual video footage of a specific individual. This process allows for the substitution of elements from one video, such as a person’s face, into different content. These manipulations become particularly deceptive when combined with voice-cloning technology. Voice cloning dissects an audio clip of someone speaking into smaller, half-syllable components that can then be reassembled to form new words which appear to be spoken by the individual in the original recording.
In this case, the 2016 video of Hadid delivering a speech on Lyme disease was exploited to create a misleading narrative. The vocal cloning technology was used to alter her speech, making it sound as if she was making a statement in support of Israel.
Bella Hadid’s stance
To investigate further, we sifted through Hadid’s Instagram to find out her stance on the recent escalation between Israel and Palestine. We found that she posted a written statement on 26 October 2023 advocating for innocent Palestinian lives, as well as condemning the Hamas attacks.
The model began her statement by asking for forgiveness for her prior silence amidst what had unfolded in the past two weeks. She explained that she faced hundreds of death threats daily and felt unsafe after her phone number was leaked. Despite the risks, she emphasised that “fear is not an option” and expressed her concern for the people of Palestine, especially in Gaza. She also expressed her deep emotional pain at witnessing the trauma unfolding in the region, and conveyed her condolences to both the Palestinian and Israeli families who had suffered losses.
Numerous media outlets, including The Independent, Vulture, Daily Mail, and Dawn also published reports about Hadid’s statement. However, we could not find any reports of Hadid apologising for her past remarks about Israel.
On the contrary, the supermodel, who has Palestinian heritage, has voiced her support for Palestinian rights on numerous occasions and has actively participated in demonstrations advocating for the Free Palestine movement.
The tweet by @DanelBenNamer gained significant traction with 18.6 million
views, 1,500 likes, and 8,500 shares as of writing time.
The video was also shared here on X.
Conclusion: A 2016 video in which Bella Hadid was giving a speech about Lyme disease has been manipulated using deepfake technology to create the illusion that the model has expressed support for Israel.
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