Viral Gas Pump Photo with Biden Sticker Was Digitally Altered

A nonpolitical moment was made both political and misleading with the use of digital editing software.

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A woman pumping gas at a Circle K near a Walgreens was seen attempting to fill her tank while a yellow bag labeled sorry out of service covered the handle and a Build Back Better Biden bumper sticker appeared to be affixed to the car.

Claim

A photograph shows a woman attempting to pump gas with a "sorry, out of service" bag covering the handle into a car with a Joe Biden bumper sticker.

Rating

Context

A picture of a woman at a gas pump was digitally altered to add a political bumper sticker. It's unclear if the yellow "out of service" bag covering the gas pump handle was part of the original photograph.

Origin

On Sept. 8, 2021, a Facebook user posted a photograph that showed a woman attempting to pump gas with a handle covered by a yellow bag that read, “sorry, out of service.” Also featured in the picture was a “Build Back Better Biden” bumper sticker, purportedly showing that the woman was a supporter of U.S. President Joe Biden.

However, further study showed that the bumper sticker was digitally added into the photo, turning a nonpolitical moment into a politically misleading one. Some of the user comments even turned racial.

A woman pumping gas at a Circle K near a Walgreens was seen attempting to fill her tank while a yellow bag labeled sorry out of service covered the handle and a Build Back Better Biden bumper sticker appeared to be affixed to the car.
This post only received several hundred shares, but others were spread thousands of times.

We found the same digitally altered photograph was tweeted by the conservative organization Young Americans for Liberty and received tens of thousands of shares.

A woman pumping gas at a Circle K near a Walgreens was seen attempting to fill her tank while a yellow bag labeled sorry out of service covered the handle and a Build Back Better Biden bumper sticker appeared to be affixed to the car.
The tweet received nearly 3,000 retweets and more than 15,000 likes.

The doctored picture was also posted a seemingly endless number of times by other accounts on social media.

The oldest post of the picture that we found looked to be from TexasBowhunter.com on May 13, 2021. The car did not appear to have any bumper stickers in that version. It’s unclear if other aspects of the photo had also been previously added with digital editing software, such as the yellow “out of service” bag.

Some social media comments suggested that the woman attempting to pump gas might have been given the yellow bag to protect her hands from potential infection during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the picture appeared to have been posted in the days following the ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline, which might make sense in terms of why the gas pump was out of service.

Other comments on social media seemed to poke fun at the fact that the woman pumping gas was wearing a mask outdoors. However, it’s possible that the woman was experiencing symptoms and was wearing a mask to help protect others while out of her home, something that the CDC recommends.

In sum, a photograph of a woman at a gas pump was digitally altered to add a Biden bumper sticker.

Sources

“COVID-19 and Your Health.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 Feb. 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html.

Perfect Example as to Why Us Fireman Have Jobs – TexasBowhunter.Com Community Discussion Forums. https://discussions.texasbowhunter.com/forums/showthread.php?t=809217. Accessed 17 Sept. 2021.

Recent Updates
  1. On Sept. 17, this story was updated to leave open the possibility that other aspects of the picture may also have been previously altered.
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