The claim: A video published April 13, 2023, on Facebook, claims to show U.S. President Joe Biden asking invisible people not to interrupt him and even apologizing to them.
Fact-checking: The viral video clip actually shows Biden’s speech at Belfast’s Ulster University, U.K. During that speech, the front and the rear hallways of the podium were full of audience, and Biden was actually joking with the audience on the balcony when he turned around.
Our verdict: The viral video was taken out of context, and it does not show Biden talking to invisible people. It shows him joking with the audience on the balcony behind the podium.
A video shared April 13, 2023, on Facebook, claims to show Biden asking invisible people not to interrupt him and then apologizing to the invisible people. In the video, Biden turned around and talked to the area above his head, saying “Don’t jump,” and then apologized that he didn’t know those people were all the way up there. While the video does not show whom Biden was taking to, the traditional Chinese-language caption translates as, “[What the hell? #BidenApologisedToInvisiblePeopleDuringSpeech#] On April 12, U.S. President Biden suddenly turned his back to the audience during his speech at Ulster University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and asked the ‘invisible people’ not to interrupt him, then apologized that he didn’t notice that ‘the people’ were standing at the back.”
As of the publication of this report, the Facebook video had been shared 19 times, and it had received 36 comments as well as 200 likes or reactions.
Through a keyword search of “Biden,” “Belfast,” “University,” etc., a YouTube live stream video published April 12, 2023, by Reuters was identified. A comparison suggests that the Facebook video is consistent with the 21:15 to 21:30 mark of the YouTube video in terms of the image and the speech content. The description of the YouTube video reads, “President Joe Biden speaks on the Good Friday Agreement at an event in Belfast’s Ulster University.”
From the speech script published by the White House, it can be concluded that the viral video actually showed Biden’s speech on the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement during an event at Belfast’s Ulster University , U.K. In the script, it is noted that the conversation in the viral video happened when Biden was “addressing the students.” The conversation before and after Biden turned his back to the camera is shown as follows:
And I want all of you to know, especially the young people in the audience today —
(Addressing the students.) And don’t jump, okay? (Laughter.) Oh, I didn’t see you all the way up there. (Laughter.) As my father would say, “Please, excuse my back. I apologize.” (Laughter.)
But all kidding aside, the American people were with you — are with you every step of the way. It’s real.
In order to further confirm the environment where the speech happened, more videos and images of the speech were investigated. According to the photos published on Getty Image, it can be found that there were big crowds standing on the balcony behind the podium, so Biden was speaking to the crowds above and behind him, rather than talking to the “invisible people.” In conclusion, the viral video is actually a clip of Biden joking with the audience standing on the balcony behind him.
This was not the first time Biden told jokes using the sentence “Don’t jump.” In March 2022, when Biden visited the U.S. Army Garrison Poland, he joked with the soldiers upstairs, saying, “Don’t jump” (please refer to the 1:05 mark of the video and also the speech script). In September 2022, Biden also told the audience sitting upstairs “don’t jump” when he was giving a speech at the Cancer Moonshot Initivative event (please refer to the 23:52 mark of the video and also the speech script).
The viral video was taken out of context, and it does not show Biden talking to invisible people. It shows him joking with the audience on the balcony behind the podium.
- Facebook, post, April 13, 2023.
- YouTube, “LIVE: US President Joe Biden speaks at an event in Belfast,” April 12, 2023.
- The White House, “Remarks by President Biden Marking the 25th Anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement,” April 12, 2023.
- Getty Images, “BRITAIN-NIRELAND-US-IRELAND-DIPLOMACY-POLITICS,” April 12, 2023.
- Getty Images, “US President Joe Biden Visits Northern Ireland,” April 12, 2023.
- YouTube, “WATCH: Biden meets with 82nd Airborne Division service members,” March 26, 2022.
- The White House, “Remarks by President Biden During Visit with Service Members of the 82nd Airborne Division,” March 25, 2022.
- YouTube, “WATCH LIVE: Biden delivers remarks on ‘cancer moonshot’ initiative,” Sept. 12, 2022.
- The White House, “Remarks by President Biden on the Cancer Moonshot Initiative,” Sept. 12, 2022.