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Fact check: 'DW' video on anti-Ukrainian sentiments is fake

September 3, 2023

An alleged DW video reports that refugees from Ukraine are being insulted with Wi-Fi network names in Poland. But it’s a fake.

A screenshot of the video in question
A video allegedly by Deutsche Welle is circulating online with the claim that Ukrainian refugees are being bullied in the names of Wi-Fi networks in PolandImage: DW/twitter

Is the Polish population turning against Ukrainian refugees in the country? A video circulating on various social networks claims as much, purporting to show Wi-Fi networks named with anti-Ukrainian slogans in the Polish capital of Warsaw. "There is no doubt that the purpose of the action is to intimidate Ukrainian refugees," the video says.

A pro-Russian channel has been spreading an alleged video by DW on X, which reports that Poles have named their Wi-Fi networks "Ukraine is hell," "Murderers from Ukraine" and  "Ukrainians, go home." The video is also being passed on via Facebook and Telegram.

DW fact check: Fake.

The video was not produced by DW, and the claims that it makes cannot be substantiated. The font and placement of the wording used in the video also deviates from DW's branded video template. The discrepancy is obvious in the side-by-side comparison below.

Credibility faked by 'spoofing'

This is not the first time that videos mimicking the style of Western media sources including DW, CNN and the BBC have been posted on channels that frequently disseminate pro-Russian and anti-Ukrainian content. This form of disinformation is called spoofing, whereby a digital identity is copied in order to gain trust and credibility.

A side-by-side comparison of a real DW video and the fake
On the left, a real DW video. On the right, the fake, in which both the font and positioning do not match DW's video template

One reason that the video appears to be authentic is that the narrative follows a standard structure followed by DW and other reputable media outlets worldwide. The opening shot, for example, shows the marketplace in the old town of Warsaw, bringing viewers to the scene of the action.

In fact the third shot, a woman with a colorful bag holding hands with a child while walking through a Polish train station (recognizable by the railroad security guard's uniform), is from a BBC report.

On the left, the woman can be seen in a screenshot of the BBC report from February 2023, on the right in the alleged DW video
On the left, the woman can be seen in a screenshot of the BBC report from February 2023, on the right in the faked DW video

But then something that wouldn't normally arise in a journalistic video appears: The hands operating a smartphone are from stock footage – commercially shot sequences published on the Pixabay platform in December 2022 that are unlikely to have been shot in Poland, much less capture the hands of a Ukrainian refugee.

The same presumably applies to the young man using a mobile phone in the middle of the report — a scene already used in a 2020 YouTube video.

Further inconsistencies

A few other details should also arouse suspicions. Why, for example, does someone type a password on an English login page when the report is supposed to be from Poland? And why do most of the Wi-Fi networks on the phone screen have English names instead of Polish or Ukrainian?

Ukrainian users would understand the English Wi-Fi network name "UkrainiansGoHome" at least as well in Polish: "UkraińcyIdźcieDoDomu," because in Ukrainian it could be translated like this: "UkrainciIdit'Dodomu."

Polish will to help Ukrainians remains strong

The Ukrainian Center for Countering Disinformation flatly denounces not only the video but also its content as false. While it cannot be completely ruled out that there are Wi-Fi networks with such names somewhere in Warsaw, there are no reliable indications that this is actually the case in the fake video.

The message that the fake video presumably intends to convey — namely that Ukrainians are unwanted in Poland — is also not backed by any surveys. Although openness to accepting more Ukrainian refugees in Poland has waned somewhat over time, it remains high. In an April 2023 poll, 73% of Poles were in favor, and only 19% were against such measures. In an earlier poll, as many as 83% wanted Poland to help Ukrainian refugees, while only 11% were opposed.

This article originally appeared in German.

Joscha Weber Bonn 9577
Joscha Weber Head of Fact-checking@joschaweber
DW-Redakteur Jan D. Walter Kommentarbild App PROVISORISCH
Jan D. Walter Editor and reporter for national and international politics and member of DW's fact-checking team.