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French flag photo shows World Cup celebration, not protests

July 19, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: Photo of a blonde woman holding a French flag above a large crowd shows recent protests in Paris over the government’s latest coronavirus measures.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. A reverse-image search reveals that the image shows celebrations in Paris in July 2018 after France won the World Cup.

THE FACTS: More than 100,000 people protested across France on Saturday against the government’s recent measures to make vaccines compulsory for all health care workers and to require a “health pass” for access to restaurants and other public venues.

However, at least one photo circulating in social media posts about the protests actually depicts a 2018 World Cup victory celebration.

The photo shows a blonde woman facing away from the camera, holding up a large French flag behind her back. She looks down on a large crowd of people filling Paris’ famed boulevard, the Champs-Elysees.

Twitter and Facebook users shared the photo over the weekend with vague references to a “revolution” and unsubstantiated claims that millions of people attended the protests.

However, a reverse-image search shows the image was taken by an AFP photographer in July 2018. It appeared in news reports about celebrations in Paris after France won that year’s World Cup.

“This picture taken from the top of the Arch of Triumph (Arc de Triomphe) on July 15, 2018 shows people celebrating France’s victory in the Russia 2018 World Cup final football match between France and Croatia, on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris,” reads a caption of the photo on Getty Images.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536