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Biden staff didn’t manipulate photo for New Year’s greeting

January 3, 2022 GMT

CLAIM: President Joe Biden used an image from the White House’s Fourth of July celebrations for a New Year’s greeting, but manipulated the image to add a Christmas tree with decorations.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: Partly false. Biden’s New Year’s greeting shared on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram did use an image from July 4, but it wasn’t altered. An original photo captured in July matches the version the president posted on New Year’s Day.

THE FACTS: On Jan. 1, Biden published a New Year’s message across his social media channels that promised to “keep building a better America” in 2022. The post featured an image of the president and his wife watching fireworks from a White House balcony. A tree adorned with decorative orbs was visible on the right side of the frame.

The next day, social media users began falsely claiming the president’s staff had used photo-editing software to alter the image in the post.

“Joe Biden’s staff photoshopped pictures from July 4th celebrations…and posted them in a tweet talking about the new year,” one Twitter user wrote on Sunday.

Biden chose a picture from July 4 and threw in “a Christmas tree to the right” to make it more appropriate for New Year’s, a Facebook user claimed.

Some of the posts included a July 4 image with no tree visible in the frame in attempts to prove that Biden’s staff had edited the tree into the shot.

Yet while it’s true that Biden’s social media accounts repurposed a Fourth of July image for a New Year’s greeting, it’s not true that the image was manipulated along the way.

A side-by-side comparison of an original White House image captured July 4 and the image used in the New Year’s greeting shows there is no difference between the two.

The photo shows Biden and his wife looking out from the Blue Room Balcony of the White House on July 4, according to an original image caption published by the White House on the photo-sharing website Flickr. The fireworks and the tree decorations are both visible in that image.

Other images captured at the White House on July 4, including the one social media users pointed to this week, did not show the tree because they were shot at an angle that obscured it.

Associated Press images of Biden speaking on July 4 show a closer look at the tree on the White House South Lawn, which was decorated with red, white and blue orbs for Independence Day.

A spokesperson for the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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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.