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A viral photo making the rounds on social media claims that environmentalists littered a California park on Earth Day.
But the image wasn’t taken in California, nor does it depict the aftermath of an Earth Day event.
Text below the viral photo reads, "Earthday in California. This is how environmentalists left a park in California after an Earthday celebration."
The image 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.)
The photo began to pop up online shortly after Earth Day celebrations on April 22. The image isn’t fake — but it is miscaptioned.
The photograph was captured nearly 10 years ago to show trash that was left from a University of Georgia tailgate party following the school’s home opener football game against South Carolina on Sept. 12, 2009.
A reverse-image search shows that the photo was published in a story by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in September 2009 to illustrate the trashed lawn. The newspaper reported that crews collected about "70 tons of trash" following the tailgate.
A local radio station also uses the same photo, credited to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, in a 2011 story about the university’s tailgating policies. The caption explains the scene was "in front of the University of Georgia Law Library one Sunday morning in September 2009, the aftermath of tailgating activities during a football game the night before."
In response, the university tightened rules around tailgate parties but relaxed them in 2011.
A viral photo that shows trash strewn across a lawn comes with the claim that the littering was caused by environmentalists after an Earth Day celebration in California.
The photo has nothing to do with environmentalists, California or Earth Day. It was captured in 2009 following a tailgate party at the University of Georgia.
We rate this False.
Facebook post, May 20, 2019
Reverse Image search, May 21, 2019
Wayback Machine Internet Archive, Accessed May 21, 2019
Atlanta Journal Constitution, UGA tailgaters warned to clean up their trash, Sept. 17, 2009
Associated Press, Environmentalists did not trash a California park on Earth Day, May 2, 2019
WSB Radio, UGA RELAXES TAILGATING RESTRICTIONS, March 25, 2011
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