Brazilian highway image falsely shared online as Algeria

Following reports that Bangladesh's forestry agency cut down scores of trees in a major national park, Facebook users began sharing a photo of a highway that passes through lush green hills which they said was an example of a mega project that did not lead to deforestation. But the posts falsely claimed the photo was taken in Algeria when it in fact showed a highway in Brazil.

"Tell them that development does not require cutting trees. Location: Algeria," reads the Bengali-language caption of a photo posted on Facebook on May 13, 2024.

The photo -- which racked over 57,000 reactions and over 5,600 shares -- shows a road passing through lush green hills.

Screenshot of the false Facebook post taken on May 23, 2024

The caption hinted at the Bangladesh government's mega projects, many of which triggered concerns among environmentalists for their implications for deforestation, a key driver of increasing temperature across the globe (archived links here and here).

The photo started circulating online after Bangladeshi media reported the forest department cut down hundreds of trees in the Altadighi National Park located west of the country for the development of a reservoir (archived link).

The same photo with a similar claim was shared elsewhere on Facebook here and here.

The claim is false; the photo does not show a highway in Algeria but was taken in Brazil.

Brazilian highway

A reverse image search on Google found the photo was shared on November 8, 2021 from a Brazil-based Instagram account (archived link).

The post's caption read "07/11/21– Cubatão - SP" with hashtags including #topofbrazil and #visitbrasil.

Screenshot comparison between the image used in the false Facebook post (left) and the photo shared on Instagram in 2021 (right)

The Instagram account user told AFP the photo shows an aerial view of a point of "Rodovia dos Imigrantes" in Cubatao city in Brazil.

The photo "was taken in November 2021," he told AFP.

Keyword searches on Google found details of the road on the website of Geodata, an Italy-based civil engineering consultancy company (archived link).

It said it shows Rodovia dos Imigrantes, a highway in Brazil's Sao Paulo state that connects the city to the Atlantic coast, and the seaside cities of Sao Vicente and Praia Grande.

Rodovia dos Imigrantes -- which translates as "Immigrants Highway" in English -- is a highway located in the Sao Paulo state of Brazil.

It first opened in 1974, according to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, run by the country's Ministry of Planning, Budget and Management (archived link).

The photo shared in the false post also corresponds with Google Maps' satellite view of the same location.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo shared in the false post (left) and the Google's satellite view of the Rodovia dos Imigrantes (right):


Is there content that you would like AFP to fact-check? Get in touch.

Contact us