A livestream feed of a square in the northeastern Italian city of Trieste has not been doctored to hide a protest over COVID-19 health passes, despite contrary claims online. Posts comparing footage captured by a demonstrator and the livestream have failed to note the two cameras show different locations and perspectives.
The eyewitness video (here, here, here) was captured on Oct. 18 by a person stood in the middle of a crowd protesting against the government’s mandatory COVID-19 Green Pass (here). They are stood on Piazza Unità d'Italia (in English: Unity of Italy Square) in the port city of Trieste.
For a portion of the 30-second clip, another protester holds his phone to the camera, showing an alleged livestream of the same square. However, the square in the live footage appears near empty.
Suggestions have since spread on social media that the livestream was doctored in an attempt to hide the ongoing demonstration.
“This is just one way they suppress the general public from seeing what’s actually going on in the world,” said one person who shared the eyewitness video on Facebook.
Meanwhile, a verified Twitter user with a significant following, said: “The revolution will not be televised… people packed the square even as online webcam footage appears to show it as empty” (here).
This is misleading. Both posts fail to take into account the different angles captured by the webcam and the phone.
Skyline Webcams, the company in control of the camera livestreaming on Piazza Unità d’Italia, said the online confusion came down to a “matter of perspective”.
The company highlighted the webcam’s location in the southeast corner of the square (see: bit.ly/3nmH8vV) and its limited view of only the square’s south and southwest area (see on Google Street View: bit.ly/2Z9Qrqw, and compare with the livestream here). The entire northern section of the square is out of sight for the Skyline webcam.
Meanwhile, analysis of the eyewitness footage reveals protesters were gathered in front of Palazzo della Luogotenenza Austriaca (timestamp: 0.23-4), a building situated on the northeast section of Piazza Unità d’Italia, which is out of the line of sight of the webcam.
Using a picture showing another angle of the square, Skyline Webcams has illustrated on Facebook its camera’s blind spot (here).
The company added that it “denies the slanders of ‘conspiracy’ and manipulation of images” during the protest.
“The webcams on the www.skylinewebcams.com site have always transmitted strictly live (subject to a delay of about 20 seconds due to video transmission latency). The accusations of having created the images of Piazza Unità d’Italia are false.”
Moreover, an Oct. 18 timelapse from the webcam has been published by Italian fact-checker Open (here), which does seem to suggest a crowd congregated that day in an area just out of the camera’s line of sight.
The location and date of the timelapse can be verified by comparing it with other on-the-ground footage captured throughout the day (see here and here), which show police vans positioned outside a regional government office (see the office location here: bit.ly/3nmMU0o).
Missing context. The livestreaming webcam on Piazza Unità d’Italia films a specific part of the square, which did not include the area where the main Oct. 18 protest took place.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.
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