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False! Images of “M” balloon found in Nigerian states, photoshopped

Claim: Giant “M” balloons were found in some states in Nigeria.

Verdict: False! Witnesses at each sighting confirmed that the floating balloon was not in any of those places. Forensic examination also revealed that the balloons were photoshopped into the video footage.

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Environmental aesthetics have always been admired, and it is unsurprising when people comment when they see such in their community.

Popular online blogger instablog9ja posted on Meta’s Instagram about an alleged placement of air-filled “M” balloons in some strategic areas in Nigeria. The areas mentioned included the City Gate at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Ikoyi link bridge in Lagos State, and Airforce Flyover in Port Harcourt. 

Part of the post reads: “Nigerians have been left awestruck after sightings of a giant floating letter “M” was reported in several locations across the country…” 

Instablog9ja also wrote that since the alleged development was brought to the public notice, several reactions have since trailed it. 

The post has garnered about 2,462 comments as of Monday, Jan. 29, 2024.

The comment section was filled with diverse opinions about the balloon, attributing it to brand marketing, money, heralding the coming of the Messiah, and even political mandate. Another set of people also thought the balloon was photoshopped.

“A company is about to pull some marketing stunt,”  Theofficialpashal partly wrote.

“The Messiah is coming soon! Repent!” Obiohaamaka reacted.

“Am I the only one that thinks that it (balloon) looks photoshopped…?” Miss_tife queried.

Due to the controversial reactions that trailed the post, DUBAWA decided to verify it.

Verification   

DUBAWA contacted residents who live in the three respective states, and each confirmed that the balloon was not seen in any of those locations. 

Furthermore, DUBAWA noticed that the city gate shown in the post is without the map of Nigeria, which is coated in the colours of the Nigerian flag.

City Gate, Abuja                                      Edited version in the post

DUBAWA also conducted a forensic examination of the alleged footage taken at Ikoyi Link Bridge and Airforce Road, identifying various faults in its graphical details.

The balloon on the water is supposed to cause ripples of waves as the water hits the edges of the balloon– an effect of liquid changing its form as it meets a solid object. However, the case is not the same in the posted video, as water flows smoothly despite coming in contact with the balloon structure. 

Ripple effect as liquid (water) contacts solid (rock)/ Photo Source: Deviant art.
Undisturbed waters as water hits the ‘M’ balloon.

Light and shadow are two essential features of images. The direction of sunlight descending against the bridge suggests a shadow pattern quite different from the shadow pattern reflected by the balloon. 

The time frame of the video is set around 2:00 PM as the sun radiates from the north, casting the shadow of the bridge beams and other objects on it towards the south. Significantly, the shadows of the bridge are well stretched out, which suggests that the sun is far away from the bridge. 

However, on the contrary, while the sun shines from the north, the balloon’s shadow is set towards the west, which is in the wrong direction of the sun. Moreover, the length of the balloon’s shadow is short and not extended, thus suggesting that the sun is directly shining on the balloon. In reality, the video feed captures the sun as distant. 

Video footage showing different shadow layouts.

Graphic details of the alleged footage taken at Airforce Road are likewise inconsistent. The balloon’s height, which surpasses the houses in the nearby surroundings, only reveals that the image was superimposed into the footage. Besides, as showcased in the video, no structure of that size can be made to go forth and back. 

The “M” balloon is superimposed into the alleged video footage.

Meanwhile, there is an absolute disparity in the sunlight temperature depicted in the video. While the sun’s brightness in the houses’ surroundings is low, the brightness of the balloon is high, almost as if the sun is directly shining on it. However, the shadows from the flowers depict the sun shining in the opposite direction. 

Disparity in the sunshine between the balloon and neighbouring surroundings

Conclusion

The claim is false. Residents who live in the respective states where the balloons were allegedly found said there is none in the locations.  

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