Stand up for the facts!
Misinformation isn't going away just because it's a new year. Support trusted, factual information with a tax deductible contribution to PolitiFact.
I would like to contribute
On social media, some users are sharing misinformation about the 16-year-old activist who inspired the worldwide climate strike Sept. 20.
One post, which was published on Facebook on Sept. 23, claims to include three photos of Greta Thunberg. It purports to show the Swedish teenager posing with an Islamic State member, philanthropist George Soros and an Antifa shirt. "Well well well … do I need to explain anymore?" reads text above the images, followed by the hashtags, "#AnonsKnew #GretaThunberg #DeepStatePuppet."
A Facebook user who shared the post wrote next to the image, "This is Typical Twisted Lies and Deceit, the Stupid Left Believes these Idiots!"
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.) And versions of it have been shared hundreds of times, so we wanted to see if the photos are real.
Based on our analysis, only one of the photos in the Facebook post is authentic — the other two are doctored or taken out of context. And the caption over the real one, which shows Thunberg wearing an antifascist shirt, isn’t accurate.
The first image in the flagged post is a screenshot of another post from a Facebook user. It claims to show Thunberg posing with a bearded member of the Islamic State, the man’s arm around her shoulder as he speaks into a microphone.
But the photo is not of Thunberg. A reverse image search reveals that the image is six years old and was taken from a video made during an ISIS-led Quran recitation competition in Aleppo, Syria, according to a news caption, as we noted in a previous fact check.
The photo was published in a now-defunct article on an Iranian website in August 2014. And The Morocco World News reported around the same time that the girl in the video was 7 years old, tearful over mistakes she made in her recitation. While the child looks vaguely similar to Thunberg — who would have been 10 at the time — there’s no evidence that it’s her.
The second image in the flagged Facebook post purports to show Thunberg posing next to Soros, a philanthropist and Democratic donor who is often the target of conservative attacks.
But we found that the photo was digitally altered to make it look like Thunberg is chummy with the wealthy liberal financier. The original image actually shows Thunberg posing with former Vice President Al Gore in December.
The altered version of the image appears to have been created by a French parody outlet in late August.
The final photo in the suspect Facebook post shows Thunberg sitting on a couch while wearing a shirt that says "antifascist all stars." Text written over the image claims that the activist "aligns herself with the Antifa terrorist organization."
Antifa is a loosely-affiliated group of left-wing activists whose mission is to counter the ideology of fascism. It has drawn criticism for its members’ willingness to use violence against far-right groups.
The photo of Thunberg is real. On July 26, she tweeted that she had deleted a photo of herself wearing the shirt after learning that it could be linked to "a violent movement."
However, in the same tweet, she said the shirt was borrowed.
We could find no evidence that Thunberg has participated in Antifa demonstrations. And being antifascist does not necessarily mean one supports the left-wing group Antifa.
What’s more, the Facebook post’s claim that Antifa is a terrorist organization is dubious. The Central Intelligence Agency has not included the group on its list of such organizations, although some lawmakers have called for it to be. However, in the past, some officials in the intelligence community have called Antifa members "domestic terrorists" in confidential documents.
A Facebook post claims to show Greta Thunberg posing with ISIS, George Soros and an Antifa shirt.
The first photo was taken out of context and doesn’t show Thunberg at all. The second photo was digitally altered. The third is genuine, but Thunberg has said she borrowed the shirt at the time. Also, being antifascist is not the same as being a member of Antifa.
The post is inaccurate. We rate it False.
Central Intelligence Agency, "Terrorist groups - home based," accessed Sept. 25, 2019
Facebook post, Sept. 23, 2019
Morocco World News, "Truth Behind Alleged Marriage of ISIS Member with 7-Year-Old Girl," Aug. 18, 2014
The New York Times, "Antifa and Far-Right Groups Face Off in Portland as Trump Weighs In," Aug. 17, 2019
The New York Times, "How Vilification of George Soros Moved From the Fringes to the Mainstream," Oct. 31, 2018
Politico, "FBI, Homeland Security warn of more ‘antifa’ attacks," Sept. 1, 2017
PolitiFact, "No, this photo does not show a young girl being sold to Muslims as a child bride," May 7, 2019
Secret News, "Greta Thunberg is the granddaughter of left-wing billionaire Georges Soros," Aug. 28, 2019
TinEye, accessed Sept. 25, 2019
Tweet from Greta Thunberg, Dec. 30, 2018
Tweet from Greta Thunberg, July 26, 2019
U.S. Congress, "S.Res.279 - A resolution calling for the designation of Antifa as a domestic terrorist organization," accessed Sept. 25, 2019
USA Today, "What is antifa and what does the movement want?" Aug. 23, 2017
Read About Our Process
In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.