Home / Post
Biden gas prices false context

Meme “comparing” gas prices uses old photos out of context

A meme with two photos of gas station signs claims to show a contrast between unusually high gas prices under President Joe Biden and unusually low gas prices under former President Donald Trump. But both photos were shot before Trump was in office. Let’s take a look at the facts.

A Facebook post of a meme with two photos of gas station signs. The first photo shows prices above $4 a gallon and has the words “don’t blame me when you voted for this” on top, while the second photo shows gas prices just over $1 a gallon and has the words “cause I voted for this” on top. The News Literacy Project has added a label saying “false context” over both, and given the photo showing high prices a label that says, “San Rafael, California, 2011” and the photo showing low prices a label that says, “online since at least September 2016.”
The top photo in this meme showing unusually high gas prices was not taken during President Joe Biden’s administration.
It was taken by a Getty Images photographer in San Rafael, California, in April 2011.
The bottom photo in this meme showing gas prices less than $2 was not taken during former President Donald Trump’s time in office.
It is a stock photo that has been online since at least September 2016.
Both photos were published online before Trump was in office.

NewsLit takeaway

Rumors about gas prices, including photos of gas station signs, are common. Many people pay close attention to the cost of gas in their everyday lives, which makes the subject ripe for eliciting strong emotional responses — especially when mixed with partisan politics. But as popular as political rhetoric — including false and misleading claims — about gas prices may be, “presidents don’t actually have much effect on the prices.” Additionally, people’s perception of the president’s influence over gas prices shifts depending on whether their party holds the White House. Gas prices were severely depressed by the pandemic for most of 2020 — and as pandemic conditions improved at the start of the Biden administration, prices went up as demand spiked and supply remained low.

A graph from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showing gas prices since 1994.
Gas prices have fluctuated significantly during the last several presidential administrations. (Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration)

NLP’s viral rumor rundown is a regular feature in The Sift, its weekly email newsletter for educators, and in Get Smart About News, its weekly email newsletter for the general public. You can subscribe to these newsletters here. Send suggestions, questions or feedback on this rumor or on the viral rumor rundown blog to thesift@newslit.org.