Posts Misrepresent Virtual Rainbow on Arc de Triomphe for Pride Month

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Quick Take 

A video artist posted an animation of a large rainbow coiling around and through the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on June 1 in celebration of Pride Month and support for the LGBTQ+ community. But posts on social media falsely suggested the rainbow had been physically installed and “defaced” the historic structure.


Full Story

In honor of Pride Month during June, some companies show support for the LGBTQ+ community by incorporating a rainbow into their branding — such as on a logo or merchandise —  or donating money to a nonprofit focused on issues related to the community. 

Ian Padgham, a video artist from California now living in Bordeaux, France, created an animation of a large rainbow installation coiling around and through the Arc de Triomphe — a monument in Paris to honor fallen soldiers — in celebration of Pride Month.

In the video, the rainbow appears to be attached to the Arc de Triomphe, and at the rainbow’s end is a cloud with the words “marche des fiertés” — which is French for Pride March, a parade scheduled for June 24 in Paris.

But posts on social media are using the video to falsely claim the Arc de Triomphe was “defaced” by the rainbow.

“The Arc de Triomphe in Paris, the iconic memorial opened in 1836 to commemorate war heroes and soldiers who died during wars has been defaced with a giant Rainbow to celebrate Pride,” said a tweet by Oli London, a spokesperson for the Fairness First PAC, a “parental rights” organization in the U.S. opposed to “radical gender ideology” in schools.

“Extremely disrespectful and appears to have been done by the city or some well organized vandals,” another Twitter user said in response to London’s tweet.

“Does any other fringe, minority group get so much attention – veterans, autistic, homeless, amputees, disabled, those with mental health and suicide issues? The answer is NO – ask yourself, WHY? Who/what is the machine behind this hard sell – and what an insult to the dead soldiers this represents,” read a Facebook post.

But as we said, the rainbow is a computer-generated animation, not a physical installation, and the French monument was not defaced or damaged in any way.

Padgham, whose other virtual creations in Europe and elsewhere appear on his Instagram page, shared the clip of the Pride Month rainbow on social media on June 1. One of his Instagram posts received more than 77,000 likes.

“Arc-en-ciel de Triomphe, Paris. Happy #PrideMonth everyone!!” Padgham said in a tweet

He explained to one Twitter user who assumed the artist had used artificial intelligence to create the video that he had, instead, utilized more traditional animation techniques. “No AI was used,” Padgham wrote. “Just me doing 3D animation and lots of hand-edited details.”

In a response to the false claims on social media, Padgham told the Associated Press, “The problem with social media of course is if something goes viral, you kind of lose control of the messaging.”

“If nothing else, this is a wake-up call to all of us that we’re entering into a period of history where we are not ready for just how bad misinformation is going to get,” Padgham said. “Most people immediately believe what they see.”


Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial content.

Sources

Ian Padgham (@origiful). “Arc-en-ciel de Triomphe, Paris. Happy #PrideMonth everyone!!” Twitter. 1 Jun 2023. 

Ian Padgham (@origiful). “No AI was used. Just me doing 3D animation and lots of hand-edited details.” Twitter. 1 Jun 2023. 

History of the Arc de triomphe.” Paris Arc de Triomphe. Accessed 7 Jun 2023. 

Fairness First PAC. “Spokespeople.” Accessed 7 Jun 2023. 

Amidi, Sophie and Taj Shorter. “It’s Pride Month. Why Didn’t We Change Our Logo?” Plug and  Play. 3 Mar 2023.

Kis, Eva. “These Brands Are Still Flying the Rainbow Flag for Pride Month.” AdWeek. 2 Jun 2023.

Martin, Kendall. “Featured Flyer Spotlight: Ian Padgham.” Skydio. 10 May 2021.

Zeigler, Cyd. “These 6 pro sports leagues and 85 teams have changed their logos to Pride rainbow.” OutSports.com. 7 Jun 2023. 

Fichera, Angelo. “Video of massive rainbow installation at Arc de Triomphe was made using special effects.” Associated Press. 2 Jun 2023.

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