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New Zealand billboard promoting ‘Christmas booster’ shots is fake

December 7, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: A Labour Party billboard in New Zealand features Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s photo alongside the text: “Remember to book your Christmas booster! Each booster gives you up to six months worth of freedoms!*” The fine print says: “*Freedoms not available in all areas and are subject to change.”

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. This billboard does not exist. A photo taken in August 2020 of a different billboard has been manipulated to add the text. The unedited image shows the original billboard with Ardern’s photo alongside the Labour Party’s campaign slogan: “Let’s keep moving,” ahead of the country’s general election.

THE FACTS: Social media users are sharing an altered photo of a Labour Party billboard in New Zealand to falsely suggest it includes a confusing message promoting COVID-19 vaccination ahead of the holidays.

The doctored photo shows a billboard with the message: “Remember to book your Christmas booster! Each booster gives you up to six months worth of freedoms!*” The fine print with the asterisk says: “Freedoms not available in all areas and are subject to change.” And another snippet of text states: “No Jab. No Job. No refunds.”

One Twitter user shared the fake photo with the claim: “Actual billboard going up in NZ. No words.” Another since-deleted tweet shared the altered image alongside the comment: “Connecting the words Christmas and booster is nothing short of sacrilege.”

The real advertisement was part of the Labour Party’s election campaign effort in 2020, not an initiative to encourage coronavirus vaccine boosters.

The altered photo showed signs of manipulation, including blurry text and discoloration. The original photo, archived online by Shutterstock, is clearer. It shows the billboard in Auckland, New Zealand, on August 8, 2020, with the party’s election slogan: “Let’s keep moving.”

The Labour Party and Ardern had not responded to an email requesting comment at the time of publication.

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This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.