Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 31 seconds

Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Falsification Story: Trump’s Sea of Love


Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 31 seconds

Watch this. It is going around on WhatsApp in Egypt



A friend showed it to me and we were both immediately skeptical.

In case you don’t know what that is in the picture, it is a picture of Muslims in Mecca moving around the holy Kaaba during the annual Muslim pilgrimage.

But I couldn’t be quietly skeptical. It felt, rather than looked doctored and I wanted to prove it.

We wondered if the words were superimposed or taken out of context but…I thought the best guess was that the picture was originally of something else, and had been replaced by the Kaaba picture. There was some light reflected on the picture in the video. I normally wouldn’t be able to use that as evidence of doctoring, but you would think ABC camerapeople could avoid that glare.

I searched for the full ABC interview online and found it. But I was too impatient to watch the entire thing. So instead I searched “Trump ABC Sea of love” and bingo!

Watch minute 3:20

It was originally a picture of his inauguration, man. Now it all makes sense.

Now here is why this story is not about the technical skill of investigating fakeness (though it helps of course, e.g. to check the original source like ABC). It’s about deep knowledge of Trump, Mecca, and the motivation of someone to doctor the video.

  1. Trump says he is impressed by people coming from “all over the country, maybe the world”. That’s not particularly impressive in Saudi Arabia. It’s not a small country, but anyone who knows anything about Mecca and the pilgrimage knows it’s impressive because people come from all over the world. All over the country isn’t really that big a deal
  2. Trump comments on how people on one end can’t see. And this has little or no relevance for Mecca
  3. And of course, we all know there is no way Trump is impressed by Muslim anything. And he can’t possibly call it a sea of love, put it up in the white house, or make it the last stop on his tour.
  4. There is motivation in this part of the world to make people like Trump. I don’t understand it, but I know it’s there. Someone made this video to convince people Trump actually liked something about Islam. Yay. Because Muslims, for some odd reason, regularly look for weird signs that people like them or are impressed by them. Too many stories for me to retell here

Long story short: there are many technical ways to assert the truth or falsity of this video. But there is quite a bit of  non-technical skepticism built on years of knowledge that helped me search and discover the truth within maybe 10 minutes.

Congratulations. And you’re welcome. Can I post this on hoaxbusters now? Or Snopes?

P.S. The glare? It’s also in the original ABC film 🙂


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