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A Facial Recognition Company Says That Viral Washington Times “Antifa” Story Is False

Matt Gaetz had cited the story in Congress as supposed evidence that antifa was involved in the Capitol assault. But the company says it’s “outright false.”

Last updated on January 7, 2021, at 6:56 p.m. ET

Posted on January 7, 2021, at 10:54 a.m. ET

Washington Times/BuzzFeed News

A facial recognition company says a viral Washington Times story claiming it identified antifa members among the mob that stormed the Capitol on Wednesday is completely false.

XRVision told BuzzFeed News it asked the conservative news outlet for a retraction and apology over the story, which was cited in the House of Representatives after the riot late Wednesday by Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, an ardent Trump supporter.

On Wednesday, the Washington Times published a story that claimed XRVision “used its software to do facial recognition of protesters and matched two Philadelphia Antifa members to two men inside the Senate.” It claimed one man “has a tattoo that indicates he is a Stalinist sympathizer” and the other “is someone who shows up at climate and Black Lives Matter protests in the West.” The story did not name the men or provide evidence that they were involved in antifa, a decentralized group of "anti-fascists" who go to protests around the US and whom the right often uses as a bogeyman.

An attorney representing XRVision, which says it was founded in 2015 in Singapore, issued a statement to BuzzFeed News refuting the Washington Times story. The statement said XRVision’s software actually identified two members of neo-Nazi organizations and a QAnon supporter among the pro-Trump mob — not antifa members.

“Our attorney is in contact with the Washington Times and has instructed them to ‘Cease and Desist’ from any claims regarding sourcing of XRVision analytics, to retract the current claims, and publish an apology,” said the statement.

The Washington Times removed the story just after 1 p.m. ET Thursday, after this story was published. Roughly five hours later, it published a completely rewritten version that removed the references to antifa members and included a correction acknowledging that the paper's original claim was false.

The original story was published with the headline “Facial Recognition Firm Claims Antifa Infiltrated Trump Protesters Who Stormed Capitol” and quickly went viral. Prominent Trump supporters and right-wing media have spread baseless claims about antifa being involved in the Wednesday breach of the Capitol.

The Washington Times said it was provided a copy of the XRVision antifa photo match by a “retired military officer.” But XRVision said it has no idea who that source might be and added that the alleged photo match is false.

“XRVision didn’t generate any composites or detection imagery for the Washington Times nor for a ‘retired military officer’ and did not authorize them to make any such representations,” the company said in its statement. “The image analysis that we performed were distributed to a handful of individuals for their private consumption and not for publication. XRVision takes pride in its technology's precision and deems the Washington Times publication as outright false, misleading, and defamatory."

The correction on the Times' updated story said, "An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that XRVision facial recognition software identified Antifa members among rioters who stormed the Capitol Wednesday. XRVision did not identify any Antifa members. The Washington Times apologizes to XRVision for the error."

UPDATE

This story includes additional information that the Times published a new version of the story with a correction.

UPDATE

Added that the story was removed by the Washington Times.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.