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Beware of this photomontage around a “cold record” broken in Russia


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Since December 4, 2022, on social networks, several users have claimed that a cold record has recently been broken in Oymyakon, a city in northeastern Russia: it would have been -71.2°C there. These accounts share an image that would have been taken during the finding of this record. But this photograph is actually a photomontage made from old images. Above all, the two temperature records recorded in Oymyakon date from the beginning of the 20th century.

Verification in a nutshell

  • Since December 4, 2022, Facebook and Twitter accounts have been sharing an unusual image showing a completely frozen construction machine. These viral posts garnered several thousand interactions in English.
  • According to the accounts that share it, this photograph would have been taken very recently in Oymyakon, a small town in Russia where it would have been -71.2°C. Some publications see in this recent record an element calling into question the reality of climate change.
  • But this photograph is not authentic. It is in fact a photomontage made from older images.
  • Two temperature records have been recorded in Oymyakon, but they are very old. In 1933, a station recorded the temperature there of -67.7°C and locals claim that it was even -71.2°C in 1924.

The details of the check

“Global warming the joke! Cold record in Oymyakon in Russia: -71.2°C”. This text was published on December 5, 2022 by a French-speaking Facebook account which accompanied it with a photograph. We can see a construction machine and a man’s face, both completely frozen.

For the past few days, on Twitter and Facebook, a dozen similar French-language publications have taken up the same narrative. According to them, a cold record was broken recently in the city of Oymyakon, in northeastern Russia. And so that’s where this photograph would have been taken.

This theory is also widely shared by English-speaking Facebook accounts, some of which have accumulated several thousand likes. According to some social media users, this new cold record would show that global warming does not exist.

Screenshot from a Facebook post, shared on December 4, 2022, showing this photograph believed to have been taken in Oymyakon, Russia. © Observers

To verify the authenticity of this photograph, it is necessary to carry out a reverse image search, for example with the InVid WeVerify tool or the TinEye search engine (see here how to proceed). This search returns several hundred results and shows that this photograph has been circulating on the internet for several years.

Screenshot of the result of the reverse image search carried out on December 9 with the TinEye tool.  Some results date back to 2017.
Screenshot of the result of the reverse image search carried out on December 9 with the TinEye tool. Some results date back to 2017. © Observers

Thanks to the filters offered by TinEye, we can also display these results from the most modified image to the least modified image. This display mode shows that some photographs only show the truck, while others only show the frozen man’s face.

Screenshot of the two images spotted by the TinEye tool during a reverse image search carried out on December 9, 2022.
Screenshot of the two images spotted by the TinEye tool during a reverse image search carried out on December 9, 2022. © Observers

As our colleagues from the Italian fact-checking media Open wrote, this clue therefore demonstrates that this image is in fact a photomontage made up of two separate photographs.

By carrying out reverse image searches from these two separate photographs, they can be found in older publications. The first image, that of the frozen construction machine, was notably published on July 9, 2008 on a blog.

Screenshot of photograph posted on July 9, 2008 on a blog.
Screenshot of photograph posted on July 9, 2008 on a blog. © Observers

Same observation for the face of the frozen man. It can be found in several old publications, for example on another blog where it was published in 2014.

Screenshot of photograph posted on a blog on January 31, 2014.
Screenshot of photograph posted on a blog on January 31, 2014. © Observers

If it is for the moment impossible to find the exact origin of these two images, these publications make it possible to verify that this photograph supposed to have been taken recently in Oymyakon is in fact a photomontage made from two much older photographs.

A cold record that is nothing recent

Oymyakon is known as the city with the record for the lowest temperature ever recorded in a year-round inhabited area. This record is mentioned by several media such as RTL, the Spanish media Marca, or the New York Post. According to the Guinness World Record website, this record was officially recorded in 1933 when it was -67.7°C in Oymyakon.

But some articles do mention the figure of -71.2°C. This is another record that has not been officially recorded but is only claimed by residents of the city. Quoted by the New York Post or Marca, they claim that this unprecedented temperature was recorded in 1924.

Contrary to what Facebook and Twitter accounts claim, Oymyakon’s very famous cold record is therefore nothing recent since it dates from the first half of the 20th century.

According to several sites publishing temperature readings, such as accuweather.com or timeanddate.com, on December 4, 2022, i.e. on the date of most of the publications that published these photos, it was “only” -55 °C in Oymyakon.

Would you like to submit a photo or video to us for verification? Contact us by message on the @InfoIntoxF24 Twitter account!



France 24-Trans

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