Home / Post
Freedom Convoy false context protests

Photo of protesters getting shoved by police is from 2010, not the ‘Freedom Convoy’

A 2010 photo of police shoving and kicking a group of G-20 summit protesters in Toronto is circulating out of context online with claims that it shows police cracking down on “Freedom Convoy” protesters in Canada. Let’s take a look at the facts.

A Feb. 18, 2022, tweet from an account named “#TruckersLifeMatters.” that says “Nothing to see here. Just following orders. #TrudeauTyranny.” The post contains a photo of police in riot gear shoving and kicking a group of people. The News Literacy Project has added a label that says, “G-20 summit protests, 2010.”
This photo does not show police shoving and kicking so-called Freedom Convoy protesters in Ottawa, Ontario, in 2022.
It is a photo of police attempting to clear a group of protesters during the G-20 summit in Toronto in June 2010.
Police in riot gear used force to clear some “Freedom Convoy” protesters in Ottawa on Feb. 19.

NewsLit takeaway

When major developments in a protest movement occur, supporters often seek out photos and video to share online to promote their cause. But some supporters go so far as to steal more dramatic visuals from other contexts to help their message go viral on social media. For example, purveyors of disinformation often seek out old photos and video of large crowds — at other protests, but also at nonpolitical events like music festivals and sports team rallies — to inflate the degree of grassroots support for a cause. This particular rumor is aimed at a different approach: exaggerating the degree or intensity of opposition to garner sympathy. Because these visuals are generally powerful, and typically align with actual events, they are often readily accepted by other supporters online. This is another reminder to double-check the authenticity of photos and videos of controversial events from sources you don’t recognize online.

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.