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Crisis actors not shown in news clip of Vienna protest

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The claim: A news clip shows proof of crisis actors in Germany

An Austrian television clip has gained traction on social media, where some falsely claim it shows evidence of crisis actors.

The partial television segment shows a reporter speaking in front of several dozen body bags. While he does, a person unzips himself from one of the bags.

“Crisis actor in Germany forgets he’s filming on TV,” reads a Feb. 6 Facebook post featuring the clip. It received more than 800 shares within three days.

The term “crisis actor” refers to someone who is paid to play a disaster victim or wounded soldier during emergency and military drills. However, conspiracy theorists have co-opted the term in recent years, falsely claiming the victims of tragedies such as mass shootings are actually crisis actors.

fact check: Posts falsely claim first vaccine recipients in the UK are ‘crisis actors’

This latest claim is an outgrowth of those conspiracy theories.

“What liars our news media has (sic) become,” one Facebook user commented on the post.

The clip has been taken out of context – it does not show crisis actors in Germany. In fact, it shows climate protesters in Austria.

USA TODAY reached out to the Facebook user who shared the post for comment.

Video shows Vienna ‘die-in’

As reported by the other fact-checking organizations, the news clip used in the post stems from a Feb. 4 segment from OE24, a Vienna-based station.

The clip is in German, the official language of Austria. It features a group of protesters staging what appears to be a “die-in,” a type of protest where demonstrators lie down to represent fatalities.

The people in the video are not crisis actors – they are protesting climate change. There are several hints in the clip that reveal its true context.

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In English, the segment’s news ticker reads, “Vienna: demo against climate policy,” according to Google Translate.

About 10 seconds into the clip, the camera shows a group of protesters dressed as the Grim Reaper, a common representation of death. The protesters hold two signs that read “Climate protection law saves lives” and “current climate policy does not,” according to a Google translation of the text.

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that a news clip shows proof of crisis actors in Germany. The video in the post is a news clip that shows a climate change protest in Vienna.

Our fact-checking sources:

  • OE24, Feb. 4th, Vienna: Demo against climate policy
  • Associated Press, Feb. 8, Video shows climate policy protest in Austria, not COVID-19 crisis actors
  • Encyclopedia Britannica, accessed Feb. 9, Where Does the Concept of a ‘Grim Reaper’ Come From?
  • Google Translate, accessed Feb 9, Translation
  • Google Translate, accessed Feb. 8, Translation
  • PolitiFact, Feb. 8, No, this video doesn’t show a German crisis actor
  • Reuters, Feb 8, Fact Check video shows demonstration against climate policy, not crisis actors in Germany
  • USA TODAY, Feb. 21, 2018, ‘Crisis actors’ youTube video removed after it tops ‘trending’ videos
  • USA TODAY, May 24, 2018, Sandy Hook families suing Alex Jones aren’t the only ones to threaten conspiracy theorists
  • USA TODAY, Feb. 21, 2019, The conspiracy theory about Florida shooting survivors that won’t end: ‘Enough is enough’
  • The Guardian, Feb. 21, 2018, Crisis actors, deep state, false flag: the rise of conspiracy theory code words
  • BBC, Dec 9, 2014, When did ‘die-ins’ become a form of protest?

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Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.



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