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It’s estimated that up to 4 million people participated in a global climate strike Sept. 20 to advocate for government action on climate change. But one widely-shared photo claims those protesters aren’t practicing what they preach.
The photo, published on Facebook on Sept. 20, purports to show a field full of trash left behind by demonstrators.
"Yes, listen to the kids, they will guide our planet, I guess they haven’t learnt (sic) the basics yet," the caption reads.
The post 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.) It’s been shared more than 130,000 times, so we wanted to check it out.
Turns out the photo does not show the aftermath of any climate strike demonstrations — it was taken months before they even happened.
Using a reverse image search, we found the viral Facebook photo is at least five months old. It was originally posted online in April after an event celebrating 420, a holiday for marijuana enthusiasts, in London’s Hyde Park.
But even in April, the image was taken out of context and miscaptioned in an effort to smear climate change protesters.
Around the same time as the 420 event in Hyde Park, climate change activists who were part of a movement called the Extinction Rebellion were protesting at various locations around central London. We found the miscaptioned trash photo in several replies to tweets from activists like Greta Thunberg, who gave a speech to the protesters April 21. The Swedish teenager is also credited with inspiring the Sept. 20 climate strike.
The Facebook post is inaccurate. We rate it False.
BBC, "Extinction Rebellion: Climate protesters march on Parliament," April 23, 2019
Facebook post, Sept. 20, 2019
The Guardian, "Humanity is at a crossroads, Greta Thunberg tells Extinction Rebellion," April 21, 2019
Snopes, "Were Piles of Rubbish Left in Hyde Park By Global-Warming Protesters?" April 23, 2019
The Tab, "People aren’t happy about the litter chaos in Hyde Park from 4/20," April 21, 2016
TinEye, accessed Sept. 24, 2019
Tweet from Greta Thunberg, April 21, 2019
Twitter Moment, Sept. 21, 2019
USA Today, "Friday's global strike was likely the largest climate rally ever," Sept. 21, 2019
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