Taiwan FactCheck Center (TFC, 台灣事實查核中心) recently debunked an online rumor claiming that President Tsai Ing-wen took off her shoes when participating at an official meeting with officials from Japan who had arrived in Taiwan to pay their respects to former President Lee Teng-hui.
A few days ago, two photos of President Tsai Ing-wen sitting in a chair on a public occasion circulated on the Internet, one of which featured a close-up of her feet.
As the angle of the photo made it seem like Tsai had taken off her shoes, some netizens commented: “Is the President suffering from a bout of athlete’s foot?”, “Is she trying to improve blood circulation?” and “She really ‘made herself at home’.”
The viral photo was originally posted on President Tsai’s official Facebook page, and featured Tsai’s reception of a “Japanese delegation offering condolences to late former President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝)” on Aug. 9.
The photo uploaded online was a zoom-in version of the original, seemingly showing President Tsai’s ankle.
The angle of which the photo was taken created the illusion that President Tsai’s right heel was parallel to her left ankle, leading many to believe that her left ankle was placed above her shoe.
As part of their “two-step verification” process of netizens’ allegations, the TFC further used keyword searches and concluded that no local media had reported any unusual behavior of President Tsai taking off her shoes during the reception.
In addition, the Facebook Live video on Tsai’s page didn’t show any instance which would suggest President Tsai taking off her shoes.
Based on the aforesaid “fact checks,” the TFC concluded that the allegations were merely a result of a tricky image and misleading comments.