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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke February 26, 2019

No, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was not photographed holding her legs open

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has quickly become the subject of fake news. In January, a photo of feet emerging from a bathtub was wrongly described as a nude selfie of the Democratic congresswoman from New York. Bloggers have attributed false quotes to her in an apparent attempt to make her look dumb. Now what appears to be a photoshopped image is being used to discredit Ocasio-Cortez.

The picture, which was published on Facebook on Feb. 15, shows a man holding up a woman by her arms while she holds her legs open in the air. The woman appears to be Ocasio-Cortez, laughing. 

While there are many pictures online of her laughing, this one strongly resembles this photo that was taken after she won the Democratic Primary in June.

We couldn’t find any credible sources for the photo, or news coverage corroborating that it’s Ocasio-Cortez, a regular figure in media reports. It closely resembles a photo, featuring a different woman with the same man holding her up, that was shared several years ago.

The post, published by the account Texas Supporters For President Donald J Trump, was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Some people commented that the photo seemed fake, but the account doubled down: "It has been brought to my attention that some were offended by this post so let me clarify: this is not a joke to be laughed at, but a serious look into the Congresswoman’s character. I had considered ‘fuzzing’ out portions of the photograph, however this would guve (sic) the appearance of photoshop so I chose to post the original, unaltered photograph. … This is a photograph of the Congresswoman acting like Miley Cyrus; and if you’re offended rest assured: we are too."

Ocasio-Cortez’s office did not respond to an email from PolitiFact about the authenticity of the photo.

Let’s look closely at the image.

Doing a reverse image search for the entire picture doesn’t turn up a lot. Google suggests "crazy girl" as a possible related search. A reverse image search of just the man — or boy, it’s hard to tell his age — turns up a photo that’s been around for at least several years.

A post from about four years ago called "Nuclear Fart" appeared on the website MemeCenter. A photo in the comments section shows the same image as the Facebook post with Ocasio-Cortez’s face. Only this photo features the face of a different woman, sticking her tongue out.

A Google Plus user also posted the photo on Dec. 29, 2014.

On the TV screen behind the pair is then-President George W. Bush giving an address to the nation from New Orleans on Sept. 15, 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Ocasio-Cortez was born on Oct. 13, 1989.

That means that unless they were watching a recording of Bush’s speech years later, she’s supposed to be 15 years old in the picture. But the alleged photo of Ocasio-Cortez looks contemporary. 

We rate this post Pants on Fire.

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Pants on Fire
A photo shows Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with her legs spread.
Friday, February 15, 2019

Our Sources

Facebook post, Feb. 15, 2019

The New York Times, "The latest smear against Ocasio-Cortez: A fake nude photo," Jan. 10, 2019

PolitiFact, "No, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did not repeat a quote that disparages socialism," Dec. 18, 2019

PolitiFact, "No, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez did not say that owning guns is not a right," Jan. 24, 2019

George W. Bush’s address to the nation about federal hurricane relief efforts, Sept. 15, 2005, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, visited Feb. 20, 2019

MemeCenter, Nuclear Fart, added about four years ago, visited Feb. 20, 2019

Google Plus page, Dec. 29, 2014 post, visited Feb. 20, 2019

Mashable, "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s reaction to winning the Democratic Primary is too pure for this world," June 27, 2018

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No, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was not photographed holding her legs open

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