Social media users have claimed the media is lying about crowds of people gathering on Jacksonville Beach in Florida, after the state’s governor allowed beaches to partially reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The posts, shared hundreds of times as of April 21, 2020, show a drone photo of a sparsely populated Jacksonville Beach, claiming the media is lying about crowds gathering by publishing old photos ( here ; here ; here ; here ).
Though the drone photo is authentic, the photos showing crowds are alsolegitimate. Both were taken on Friday, April 17, after the beach reopened.
With more than 300 shares, one post ( here ) shows a photo of a large number of beachgoers strolling, playing with their children, walking their dogs, swimming and surfing. Underneath is an aerial photo allegedly of the same beach, with people much more thinly dispersed. Despite the contrast between the two images, both show Jacksonville Beach on the same day.
The first photo was taken by David Rosenblum for Icon Sportswire and licensed to Getty Images ( here ). The caption on Getty Images ( here ) reads: “JACKSONVILLE BEACH, FL – APRIL 17: People crowded the beaches in its first open hour on April 17, 2020 in Jacksonville Beach, Fl. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry opened the beaches to residents for limited activities for the first time in weeks since closing them to the public due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Jacksonville Beach became the first beach in the country to reopen.”
As per the Jacksonville Mayor’s announcement ( here ), the beach opened at 5 p.m. on Friday, April 17. The photograph of the crowd was taken between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. that day, since the Getty caption says the image captured Jacksonville Beach “in its first open hour.” Other Getty images of crowds on the re-opened beach can be seen here .
The aerial image comes from drone footage ( here ) of the same beach on Friday, April 17. According to local NBC affiliate First Coast News, the footage was taken on Friday evening, with the exact time not specified ( here ). It is therefore possible that the two photos show the beach at different times on the evening of April 17, with different numbers of people presentand from different angles.
One post ( here ) compares the two pictures and claims that the photo of the crowd cannot be recent because of the pier in the background. According to the user, the aerial picture “shows the pier that no longer exists, as shown, after the last couple of hurricane seasons” and that “half of the pier is now gone.” This claim is false. At the 0:09 mark in the First Coast News drone video ( here )from which the screenshot was taken, the pier, extending into the ocean, is visible.
False: Claims that the media is lying about people congregating on Jacksonville Beach after its reopening are false. Images of people on the beach are authentic, as is the drone photoof the beach. Both were captured at different times on April 17.
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