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FactCheck: Photo shows 2018 France World Cup celebration, not vaccine protest

An image spreading widely on social media shows a woman holding the French flag behind her, with throngs of people filling the street below. It captures a celebration in Paris following France’s victory in the 2018 World Cup final.

But social media users now are misrepresenting that photo to suggest it was taken recently at a protest against COVID-19 vaccines.

“France today,” reads a tweet from July 18. “People are waking up against vaccine tyranny and new world order!”

The photo appeared the same day in a post on Telegram with the same text.

Another tweet of the photo on July 18 — shared nearly 2,000 times — was paired with a more implicit message: “‘They say 2 million people took to the streets of Paris’ Shit’s getting real folks – do you want to be on the side of good or evil for this one?”

On Facebook, a user shared the photo and declared, “Yeah, that’s right Millions of people are awake, MILLIONS. Go FRANCE and anyone who isn’t complying to the trash mind control.” More than 250 users shared the post.

The photo also appeared on Instagram with a message against the vaccines in a post liked nearly 600 times. The user said she had “no way of proving this photo is real but it’s supposedly from France.”

There have indeed been well-attended protests in France against COVID-19 vaccines, with some opposing a measure by the government that will require individuals to show proof of vaccination — or a negative COVID-19 test or recent recovery from the disease — in order to enter public events or venues.

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Reverse image searches, however, show the photo circulating on social media with anti-vaccine messages is not from such a protest — but from a July 15, 2018, World Cup celebration.

The photo shows a swarm of celebrators taking to the streets after France’s win over Croatia in the World Cup. It was credited to Ludovic Marin of the news agency AFP. A caption indicates it was taken from atop the Arc de Triomphe.

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Ben Sutherland/CC BY 2.0

France celebrates winning the 2018 World Cup with their fans.