‘Vienna protest picture’ actually old photo of Moscow

24 November 2021
What was claimed

A photo shows a protest in Vienna, with the “vaccinated and unvaccinated standing together for what is right”.

Our verdict

The photo was actually taken in Moscow in 1991.

A photo on Facebook purporting to show a protest in Vienna is going viral. 

The caption says: “Go Vienna! Vaccinated and unvaccinated standing together for what is right!”

Although there have been protests in Vienna against new Covid-19 restrictions recently, the photo in the post is actually a snippet of a larger one taken in Moscow in 1991, which, according to the Associated Press photo archive, was of protests against then-President Mikhail Gorbachev. From Google Maps, you can see the buildings in the photo match the buildings in Manezh Square, where it was taken.

This is a photo with an interesting back story

In 2012 when there were again widespread protests in Moscow, this picture was circulated with false claims that it showed the 2012 protests and not those in 1991. While the photo was being shared, some noticed that parts of it had been cloned—in other words, edited to duplicate a section of the crowd. AP told The Atlantic in 2012: “We've determined this was a case of cloning to reduce some lens flare. It's unacceptable under our news values and principles. We're looking into it further.”

In an AP fact check published on 22 November 2021 about the ‘Vienna’ picture now circulating, the AP said: “The version of the AP photo in the posts is one that was edited to duplicate a part of the crowd – a change made to address a flaw that had discolored a small part of the original image. That version was later deleted from AP’s archives, because this type of image alteration does not meet AP’s standards for accuracy. The original photo is still in AP’s archives.”

There have also been false claims that this picture shows a Metallica concert in Moscow. The concert was actually held in nearby Tushino airfield, not in Manezh Square.

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as false because the photo does not show a recent protest in Vienna—it is of a 1991 protest in Moscow.

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