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Fact Check-Years-old content has been falsely used as imagery showing 2021 rallies in Athens over COVID-19 vaccines

Aerial shots of protests held in Athens in 2018 and 2019 have been mistakenly used by social users as content from July demonstrations against COVID-19 vaccine policy.

One photograph shared on Facebook shows the Greek flag flying above enormous crowds gathered outside parliament buildings in Athens (here), while a separate drone video shows a similar demonstration at the same location (here).

“That looks larger than the big protests over the financial crisis. It appears as though a million people went,” replied one social media user in the comments underneath the photo.

Another individual who shared the drone video on Twitter on July 16 said: “Aerial View Of Protests In Greece As Medical Apartheid Becomes Law,” (here).

More than 5,000 people demonstrated in Athens on July 14 against an announcement that COVID-19 vaccines were to become mandatory in certain sectors. Images of this rally were published by Reuters at the time and can be seen here.

However, neither the aerial photo nor the drone video on Facebook were from the 2021 protests. Rather, they were taken from rallies relating to Greece’s longtime dispute over the Republic of North Macedonia’s name.

The photograph can be traced back to February 2018 and is credited to an AP photographer (here). It was captured when hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Syntagma Square to oppose the term ‘Macedonia’ being used to name its neighbouring nation (here).

Another angle of the rally can be seen here.

Meanwhile, the drone footage can be traced back to January 2019, when tens of thousands of people again rallied in Syntagma Square against the name accord (archive.is/wPgAr and here).

The footage was shared at the time in local media such as Athens News and Parapolitika (here and here).

Reuters has previously addressed images being misattributed to represent recent protests regarding COVID-19 vaccines (here).

VERDICT

Miscaptioned. A photo and video from 2018 and 2019 respectively have been mistakenly used as content from 2021 rallies in Athens over COVID-19 vaccine policy.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here.

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