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FACT CHECK: Video of Bella Hadid supporting Israel is AI-generated


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FACT CHECK: Video of Bella Hadid supporting Israel is AI-generated
The half-Palestinian supermodel has been a vocal supporter of Palestinian rights and previously released a statement on her personal Instagram account on the ongoing conflict in Gaza

Claim: Palestinian-American model Bella Hadid says in a video that she stands with Israel in its ongoing war with Palestinian militant group Hamas.

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The claim was posted on X (formerly Twitter) on October 29 by user Danel Ben Namer, who has a verified account with 4,592 followers. Namer’s bio on X shows the Israeli flag.

The post shows a video of Hadid accompanied by the caption “Bella Hadid stands with Israel.” As of writing, the post has over 30 million views, 9,800 quote tweets, and 1,700 likes.

What the video shows: In the video, Hadid allegedly said: “Hi, it’s Bella Hadid. On October 7th, 2023, Israel faced a tragic attack by Hamas. I can’t stay silent. I apologize for my past remarks. This tragedy has opened my eyes to the pain endured here. And I stand with Israel against terror. I’ve taken time to truly learn the historical context. Now, with a clearer understanding, I hope we can engage in constructive dialogue moving forward. Thank you.”

The facts: The clip on X is a deepfake, which uses AI tools to create realistic-looking fake videos by manipulating audio or video. It is an altered version of Hadid’s speech at the 2016 Global Lyme Alliance

Comparing the altered clip with the original video, the deepfake shows unnatural head movements and instances of Hadid’s mouth not synced with the audio. 

Original video: The original video came from a 2016 speech Hadid gave to the Global Lyme Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to conquering Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. 

The supermodel, who was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2013, has been open about her health struggles with the tick-transmitted infection. 

In her speech, she said: “I know what it feels like to not want to get out of bed from bone pains and exhaustion and days on end of not wanting to socialize or be around people because the anxiety and brain fog just isn’t worth it.” 

Vocal support: Hadid and her older sister, Gigi, have long been vocal proponents of Palestinian rights. Their father Mohamed was born in Nazareth and was among the thousands of Palestinians displaced from their homes, becoming refugees. 

On October 27, Hadid posted a video on her official and verified Instagram account along with a lengthy statement calling for “humanity and compassion” in the ongoing crisis. In the post, she shared how her family witnessed decades of violence against the Palestinian people. (TIMELINE: A brief history of Gaza’s 75 years of woe

She said: “I’ve been sent hundreds of death threats daily, my phone number has been leaked, and my family has felt to be in danger. But I cannot be silenced any longer. Fear is not an option. The people and children of Palestine, especially in Gaza, cannot afford our silence. We are not brave – they are.”

Hadid added that her “heart is bleeding with pain” and condemned terrorist attacks “on any civilians, anywhere.”

Disinformation in the Israel-Hamas war: Manipulated videos and images related to the Israel-Hamas war have been spreading since Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7. The posts misrepresent real events to push certain narratives and sow confusion. (READ: What you need to know about disinformation in the Israel-Hamas war)

Disinformation watchdogs have long warned that deepfakes can be used to spread disinformation, and the current conflict between Israel and Hamas has seen the use of AI tools to spread propaganda. In an article by the New York Times, digital forensics expert Hany Farid said: “The specter of deepfakes is much, much more significant now – it doesn’t take tens of thousands, it just takes a few, and then you poison the well and everything becomes suspect”. 

Rappler has fact-checked several of these posts:

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, at least 9,485 Palestinians and 1,400 Israelis have been reported killed since October 7. Kae Kristel Muñoz/Rappler.com

Kae Kristel Muñoz is a 4th year Journalism student at Polytechnic University of the Philippines, who is an intern under Rappler’s Research Unit. 

This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program here. Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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