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Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman February 29, 2020

Photo of used needles mislabeled as coming from Pelosi’s district in San Francisco

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  • An image of used syringes is not from San Francisco. It was taken at a homeless camp in Washington state in 2017.


An image showing a large pile of used hypodermic needles is being miscaptioned online as coming from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco congressional district. It wasn’t even taken in California. 

A Facebook post that shares the image falsely states in its caption that the heap of needles were "picked up at a city park in San Francisco while cleaning up a homeless camp. This is Nancy Pelosi's district! Don't let the Democrats have control of our country or your state will be next!"

The photo 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.)

We tracked down the photo using a reverse-image search and found that it was taken in Everett, Wa., in 2017 as part of a homeless camp cleanup effort.

The Daily Herald, which covers the city of Everett and Snohomish County, documented the project: 

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"One million used syringes were collected in six months this year by a Snohomish County needle exchange, according to new figures from the local health district.

Stray needles have become a symptom and a symbol of the nationwide opioid crisis. Recovering addicts spent days cleaning nine tons of garbage and thousands of heroin needles from their former home, a patch of woods behind a Home Depot south of Everett."

While the photo is miscaptioned, it is true that San Francisco and other large cities continue to experience problems of homelessness and drug abuse.

Nevertheless, the image is not from a San Francisco park. It was taken at a homeless camp in Washington as part of a six-month project, and the needles were displayed to demonstrate the opioid crisis in the community.

This photo is mislabeled and missing context. We rate it False.

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Photo of used needles mislabeled as coming from Pelosi’s district in San Francisco

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