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German protest footage unrelated to US immigration dispute

Social media users are sharing footage on TikTok they claim shows a group of farmers in the US state of Texas staging a protest on the southern border with Mexico in January 2024. This is false; the video was taken at a demonstration in Germany.

"Farmer blocking the Border and Standing for texas," says text over one TikTok post published January 21, 2024.

<span>Screenshot from TikTok taken January 30, 2024</span>
Screenshot from TikTok taken January 30, 2024

The post accumulated more than 2.8 million views. The same clip has circulated elsewhere on TikTok, Facebook, YouTube and X, formerly Twitter, in posts linking to footage the southern US border.

The posts are some of the latest misinformation about a dispute between Republican Governor Greg Abbott and the Biden administration over illegal immigration.

Texas has continued fortifying the banks of the Rio Grande despite a Supreme Court ruling that sided with the federal government in allowing Border Patrol agents to remove concertina wire barriers the state had erected in the area. A trucker convoy called "Take Back our Borders" is descending on the state for a planned demonstration against federal border policies.

The footage shared online does not depict any such protest -- it was taken in mid-January in Germany.

A reverse image and video search surfaced similar footage that local broadcaster Schöntal TV took January 14, 2024 at a protest in Forchtenberg in the northern German state of Baden-Württemberg (archived here).

Additional TikTok posts published after the protest show the same footage attributing it to the Forchtenberg event (archived here and here).

Mapillary street view imagery taken at the protest location in 2020 shows the same sign and street as the TikTok video misrepresented as Texas. The footage from Schöntal TV also depicts the same house in the background.

<span>Screenshot from TikTok taken February 1, 2024, with elements outlined by AFP</span>
Screenshot from TikTok taken February 1, 2024, with elements outlined by AFP
<span>Screenshot from Mapilary taken February 1, 2024, with elements outlined by AFP</span>
Screenshot from Mapilary taken February 1, 2024, with elements outlined by AFP
<span>Screenshot from the Schöntal TV YouTube page taken February 1, 2024, with a house outlined by AFP</span>
Screenshot from the Schöntal TV YouTube page taken February 1, 2024, with a house outlined by AFP

Farmers’ protests

Agricultural groups from European countries such as Germany, France, Spain, Poland and the Netherlands have staged protests in response to government policies aimed at curbing pollution and climate change.

The German government has proposed scrapping tax breaks on agricultural diesel, which some farmers say will hurt their bottom line. Chancellor Olaf Scholz's three-party coalition scrapped a plan to also abolish a vehicle tax discount for agricultural machinery in its revised budget.

A local farmers' association organized the Forchtenberg demonstration as part of a "week of action" to protest the government's diesel tax policy (archived link).

David Benzin, a spokesman for the group, confirmed the footage in the TikTok posts was taken at the protests.

"The video was recorded on the evening of 14 January 2024 (Sunday) in Forchtenberg (Baden-Württemberg)," he said in a German statement emailed to AFP. "This is also well proven by the house on the left at one point in the video."

Other posts on social media have falsely claimed the footage came from agricultural protests in France, which has seen similar protests this year.

Additional demonstrations in Germany have blocked streets and motorways in cities such as Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne and Bremen, along with key ports on the northern coast.

AFP has previously debunked other videos falsely claimed to show demonstrations near the US-Mexico border -- including some misrepresenting footage from unrelated German protests.

Eva Wackenreuther contributed to this report.

February 5, 2024 This article was updated in the 13th paragraph to correct a spokesman's name. February 2, 2024 This article was updated to swap the first image.