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An estimated 7,000 people are making their way through Mexico in hopes of entering the United States in an exodus that is causing concern in some corners of the U.S., where President Donald Trump's signature promise has been to secure the Mexican border.
Some bloggers have been promoting the idea that the group, which originated from Honduras, hates America.
Among their sources of evidence: an Associated Press photograph showing two people holding up a burning U.S. flag that has been defaced with a swastika.
Breitbart included the photo at the top of its Oct. 22 story headlined, "Protesters in Support of Caravan Paint Swastika on American Flag, Burn It in the Street." The story has now been shared more than 20,000 times on Facebook.
Soon after Breitbart posted its story, Pamela Geller president of the conservative American Freedom Defense Initiative, embedded the Breitbart story into her own blog with a different headline, "'Caravan' Migrant Army Paint Swastika on American Flag, Burn It in the Street."
These stories were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
Geller, who describes herself as a practitioner of "independent, investigative journalism," then shared her blog post on Twitter and Facebook, writing, "Is it any wonder the Democrat (sic) party of treason is fighting to bring this horror into the country?"
But her characterization of the photo being a picture of caravan participants is wrong.
The AP photo was taken at a protest in Honduras at a time when the caravan had already passed through Guatemala and was stalled at its border with Mexico.
The caption that accompanied Associated Press photographer Fernando Antonio's image said, "Two people burn a United States flag during a protest in favor of the caravan of migrants that is currently stuck on the Guatemala-Mexico border, in front of the American embassy, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Friday, Oct. 19, 2018."
Contacted by email about the photo on Thursday, Anita Baca, AP photo editor for Latin America & the Caribbean, again confirmed that the photo did not depict migrants participating in the caravan.
The photo was made, Baca wrote, "in front of the U. S embassy during a Friday night, Oct. 19th protest against Trump’s response to the caravan and also as a show of solidarity for the caravan."
Geller did not respond to an email or a Facebook message.
So, while Breitbart accurately characterized the flag-burning as being the work of protesters, that didn’t stop other bloggers from mischaracterizing its origin.
Like Geller, conservative Christian blogger Bob Williamson posted the AP photo and, referring to the caravan, said, "The worst thing I've seen is them painting a swastika on our American flag and then burning it. What the heck are these people thinking?" A poster at conservativeunderground.com gave the photograph this headline: "Honduran 'Refugees' Paint Swastika On Our Flag Then Burn It."
This photograph was taken by an AP photographer during a protest in Honduras that was staged in support of migrants caravanning to the U.S. border. It does not show members of the "caravan migrant army" burning a defaced U.S. flag.
We rate this claim False.
Facebook post, "PHOTO: ‘Caravan’ Migrant Army Paints Swastika on American Flag, Burns It in the Street," Oct. 22, 2018, accessed Oct. 23, 2018
Breitbart, "PHOTO: Protesters in Support of Caravan Paint Swastika on American Flag, Burn It in the Street," Oct. 22, 2018, accessed Oct. 23, 2018
Associated Press, "Honduras US Prostest" (sic), Oct. 19, 2018
United Nations News, "As human caravan moves through Mexico, ‘full respect’ needed for national control of borders: UN chief," Oct. 22, 2018, accessed Oct. 23, 2018
Email, Anita Baca, Associated Press photo editor for Latin America & the Caribbean, Oct. 25, 2018
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