Gas prices in viral photos don’t reflect Los Angeles average
CLAIM: Photos showing gasoline listed at more than $5 per gallon in Los Angeles show how much gas prices have risen under President Joe Biden.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: Missing context. The gas station in these photos has long charged well in excess of average or nearby prices, according to Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, a website that tracks gasoline prices across the country. The average gas price in Los Angeles was $3.89 per gallon on Monday, and California’s average was $3.85 per gallon, De Haan said. The nationwide gas price average was lower, at $2.87 per gallon, up about 34 cents from last month’s average, according to a GasBuddy analysis.
THE FACTS: The United States has seen a sharp rise in gasoline prices in recent months, with analysts saying rising crude prices, tightening gas supplies and increased demand are driving up prices at the pump.
However, viral social media posts highlighting high prices at one gas station are being used to exaggerate price increases occurring across the nation.
Take for example two social media posts circulating widely on Monday, both of which feature signs at the same Chevron station in downtown Los Angeles, which is notorious for having inflated gasoline prices.
The first post, an Instagram photo shared by Donald Trump Jr., features the Chevron station’s sign showing regular gas costing $5.55 per gallon. The former president’s son used the image to implicate President Joe Biden’s administration as the reason for the high prices.
“Were the tweets really that bad?” reads the text superimposed onto the photo. “Asking for the entire country.”
Meanwhile, a widely shared Facebook post includes an image of a sign at the same gas station from a different angle, with the regular gasoline price listed at $5.47 per gallon.
“#WakeUpPeople #BidensAmerica #PassionatePatriot,” the caption reads.
Text on this image claims it was taken in Santa Monica, California, but an analysis of the image reveals that’s not the case. The apartments in the background of the image give it away: They are the Mozaic at Union Station Apartments, across the street from the Chevron station located in downtown Los Angeles.
The station, at 901 Alameda Street, has spent all 1,900 of the last 1,900 days above the average gas price in Los Angeles, according to De Haan.
“Meanwhile, for comparison, a nearby competitor, Valero, at 500 S. Alameda St., has averaged a price of $3.26 per gallon over the same time frame, peaking at $3.82 in 2018 and $4.22 in 2019,” De Haan said. “This highlights the importance of motorists shopping around as plenty of lower priced stations are nearby this station.”
The gas prices in the images appear to be legitimate — De Haan said the station is currently selling gas at $5.65 per gallon. However, the images of the exorbitant prices charged by the station, which are being shared on social media, don’t accurately reflect the actual state of gas prices in America.
A representative for the Chevron station did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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