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Post misrepresents crowd size at Biden drive-in rally

December 17, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: “The guy who had 81 million votes had 22 people show up to hear him speak in Georgia yesterday.”

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. This post refers to a drive-in rally where President-elect Joe Biden campaigned alongside Democratic Senate candidates in Atlanta on Tuesday. Associated Press reporters at the event confirmed that hundreds of people were either in cars at the venue or lined up along the motorcade route to see Biden. The president-elect has routinely limited crowd size at events to adhere to social distancing guidelines during the pandemic.

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THE FACTS: A post circulating widely on Facebook and Twitter this week attempted to point out a discrepancy between the record number of votes for Biden in the 2020 election and the number of people who attend his events.

“The guy who had 81 million votes had 22 people show up to hear him speak in Georgia yesterday......” read the post, which was shared more than 5,000 times on Wednesday.

Commenters on the post speculated that the low crowd size meant the 81 million vote tally must be inflated, pointing to debunked claims of dead people voting.

But the post isn’t an accurate portrayal of reality. It’s true that a record 81 million Americans cast ballots for Biden in the 2020 election. It’s not true that Tuesday’s drive-in rally had only had 22 attendees.

In addition to several dozen cars that were lined up near the stage, there were also hundreds of supporters lined up in the streets outside the venue, AP reporters on the scene confirmed.

AP images match that account, showing a crowd of people outside the venue wearing masks and holding signs showing support for Biden and Democratic Senate candidates.

This post also lacks the context of the coronavirus pandemic. Many states, including Georgia, have seen case numbers spike in recent weeks. On Nov. 30, Gov. Brian Kemp renewed a public health state of emergency and extended coronavirus restrictions in the state.

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Throughout the 2020 election, Biden’s campaign routinely avoided large rallies in favor of online events or drive-in events to avoid further spread of COVID-19. Biden has called Trump’s rallies “super-spreader events” and said he is listening to the warnings of public health experts.

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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