Image of NYC 'Glory to Urine' billboard was digitally created, not real | Fact check

The claim: NYC billboard read 'Glory to Urine' instead of 'Glory to Ukraine' during Zelenskyy’s visit

A Sept. 21 Facebook post (direct link, archive link) includes a video that appears to be from a Fox News broadcast showing a blue and yellow billboard with the words "Glory to Urine" on it alongside an image of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

“There was a greeting message for Zelenski’s (sic) arrival in New York,” reads part of the post's caption. “But instead of Glory to Ukraine, the flag read Glory to urine. The company that owns the screen explained that the error was caused by an intelligent system that compared the yellow color with the word Ukraine and automatically corrected it to a similar consonant word – Urine.”

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Our rating: Altered

The image is altered. The company that operates the billboard said no such message appeared on the screen, and Fox News Digital also said it did not air such an image.

Recent photo, video of same intersection shows different scene

Zelenskyy addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Sept. 19 during a visit to the U.S. and Canada to boost support for his war-torn country. During his speech, he warned of the world being brought to a “final war” if Russia’s aggression is not curbed.

But there was no billboard that read "Glory to Urine" in New York at the time of his visit.

The company that operates the billboard at the intersection of West 42nd Street and 8th Avenue said the claim is false.

"We do operate the sign in question and have confirmed that the copy shown in the photo and video did not run on our signage," said Erin Watkins, general counsel for Big Outdoor. "The images are 100% fake."

A secondary image on social media purports to show a statement from another billboard operator, Clear Channel, apologizing for the supposed typo. But company spokesperson Jason King said it does not own or operate the billboard at the location in the image and that the statement is "not a legit response issued from Clear Channel."

Despite the Fox News Digital logo in the upper right corner of the Times Square image, there is no evidence the outlet reported on the fabricated billboard, and it told USA TODAY suggestions otherwise are also false.

“Fox News Digital did not publish this image,” said company spokesperson Irena Briganti.

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Ben Collins, a disinformation and extremism reporter for NBC News, posted a video on X, formerly Twitter, on Sept. 21 showing the area where the billboard is located. In his video, the message is not displayed on the billboard and the area looks noticeably different from the Facebook video.

“You know where it said ‘Glory to Urine’ this morning and all that scaffolding was there and all that stuff was different?” he asks sarcastically. “Now it’s just all gone and they put in … entirely new businesses, all today. So, really good work America. I’m very proud of us.”

Markian Kuzmowycz, a digital threat analyst for Microsoft who previously worked as a Fulbright public policy fellow in the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers, also posted a photo on X showing that the intersection as of Sept. 21 did not have the scaffolding shown in the Facebook video. In its place is more digital advertising space and a Villa Italian Kitchen location.

An article on the presumed billboard by Not the Bee, a website connected to the Babylon Bee that claims to publish "absurd and hilarious – but real – news," has since been deleted.

Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023 at United Nations headquarters.
Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023 at United Nations headquarters.

USA TODAY reached out to the user who shared the post for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

The Associated Press also debunked the claim.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Image of 'Glory to Urine' billboard in NYC is fabricated | Fact check