Zelenskyy Green Screen Photo Conspiracies Explode Online

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One Dumb Conspiracy

Analysis

A photograph of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy standing in front of a green screen has ignited a firestorm of conspiracy theories online.

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The image, which has been shared all across social media, has been cited as evidence that Zelenskyy is either being controlled by shadowy forces or no longer in Ukraine.

In a now-deleted post on Twitter, one user suggested that the image somehow proved that the Ukrainian leader was spreading “propaganda.”

“This is how the impressive Zelensky[sic] speeches are produced. Lots of green screens and hitech editing,” the user wrote. “Hollywood is helping out. All that technology to make things appear real; impressive propaganda. We could not do it better ourselves.”

Another Twitter user took the conspiracy theory one step further by ludicrously arguing that Zelenskyy may not even exist.

“In light of the ‘Hollywood production’ Zelensky greenscreen video circulating everywhere today, my question isn’t, ‘Where is he actually located,’ but rather, ‘Does Zelensky[sic] even exist?’” the user wrote.

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The image also made the rounds on Reddit’s popular r/Conspiracy forum where it received more than 800 upvotes

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. The photograph was discussed among conspiratorial circles on Facebook as well.

Yet, as usual, all of the conspiracy theories circulating online are largely devoid of facts. For starters, the image is actually months old and was originally taken in June

Zelenskyy at the time was speaking at four tech festivals in Europe simultaneously as a 3D hologram. The Ukrainian leader was able to do so by standing in front of a green screen and special cameras developed by Evercoast, a technology company that provides 3D volumetric video capabilities for use in virtual production, augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR).

The speech was widely covered across the media in June but somehow only just this month caught the attention of conspiracy theorists.

This is far from the first time that Zelenskyy has been the subject of such conspiracy theories. Earlier this year deepfakes of the Ukranian president were spreading online

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Why it matters

The latest conspiracy theory targeting Zelenskyy shows how even something as simple as a months-old photograph can be used to spread false information.

Even though the picture had already been featured by countless media outlets, the echo chamber of conspiracy theories online seemingly kept countless people from realizing that nothing conspiratorial actually took place.

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*First Published: Oct 18, 2022, 6:00 am CDT

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Mikael Thalen

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Mikael Thalen is a tech and security reporter based in Seattle, covering social media, data breaches, hackers, and more.



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