Fact Check: Instagram posts – Video doesn’t show HAARP’s destruction; it’s from a Brazil farm protest
The High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program, aka HAARP, has been the subject of numerous conspiracy theories over the years, with some falsely claiming it’s a nefarious plot to control the weather and cause earthquakes and other natural disasters.
Now, an old, false claim has resurfaced on social media. A video that has been circulating for several years is being shared anew to claim that protesters managed to destroy HAARP.
“HAARP gets destroyed!” text over the video posted April 8 read. The video shows a group of electrical towers falling to the ground while a crowd of onlookers cheer. “One but it’s a start,” reads the post’s caption.
Rod Boyce, a HAARP spokesperson, said there have been no attacks at HAARP and that it remains operational. The post’s caption seems to suggest that there is more than one HAARP site, but that isn’t so, said Boyce.
HAARP is a research site in Gakona, Alaska. The U.S. military created the site in the 1990s but the University of Alaska, Fairbanks has managed it since 2015. There are no other HAARP locations, though there are two other ionospheric heaters in the world, including the EISCAT Scientific Association in Norway and the Sura Ionospheric Heating Facility in Russia, Boyce said.
Researchers from around the U.S. use the HAARP site to study the ionosphere, which is an upper layer of Earth’s atmosphere. To do so, they use a powerful high-frequency radio transmitter called an Ionospheric Research Instrument, which is a “phased array of 180 (high frequency) crossed-dipole antennas spread across 33 acres.” The transmitter heats electrons in the ionosphere, and researchers measure the effects.
Antennas for the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program in Gakona, Alaska, seen here in 2007. (AP Photo/Mark Farmer)
The HAARP site has been the subject of numerous false conspiracy theories over the years, with people alleging that it can be used to control weather and control minds.
In February, PolitiFact debunked a claim that HAARP was the cause of devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.
The electrical towers seen in the Instagram video are not from the HAARP site. A reverse image of a screenshot from the video led us to this Pinterest post, which shared a YouTube video with the headline “destroying one of the HAARP platforms in Brazil.” That video was posted in December 2017.
We found several social media posts from different years falsely claiming that the video showed protesters destroying a HAARP site in Brazil. But HAARP is not in Brazil. A 2017 Instagram post that came up on our reverse image search said it showed protesters destroying a farm in Bahia, a state in Brazil.
The Observers, fact-checkers at the news network France 24, traced the video to a 2017 protest on a farm in Bahia owned by a company called Igarashi. They linked to a YouTube video and shared several news reports about the protest.
Fact-checkers at AFP Brazil in 2020 found the same video was being used for a different false claim, this time alleging the protest was the work of militants from the Landless Rural Workers Movement.
We reached out to Igarashi for comment but did not immediately hear back.
The video can also be found embedded in a 2018 article in Metrópoles, which said the protest and tearing down of the electrical substation stemmed from land and water disputes.
Another article doesn’t show the video but shows the aftermath of the protest and power poles on the ground. They look nothing like the giant antennas at HAARP.
There is no evidence that any HAARP equipment was destroyed, and the video claiming it happened is from a 2017 protest at a farm in Brazil, during which electrical towers were knocked down. We rate the claim False.