This photo shows Pope Francis' visit to Brazil in 2013

Copyright AFP 2017-2021. All rights reserved.

A photo has been shared repeatedly in Facebook posts alongside a claim it shows anti-lockdown protesters on a beach in Sydney, Australia's largest city. The claim is false: the AFP photo actually shows crowds gathered on a beach in Brazil during Pope Francis' visit in July 2013. There have been anti-lockdown protests in Australian cities but as of August 30, 2021, the crowds have been far smaller than the one shown in the photo.

The image was shared here on Facebook on August 19, 2021 alongside a claim it shows Sydney's Bondi Beach.

Screenshot of the misleading Facebook post, taken on August 30, 2021. ( AFP)

"Millions of people gathered at the Bondi Beach in Australia to protest against the country's lockdown measures. Why aren't the main media reporting it? Are they idiots? Strange," reads the post's Korean-language caption.

The photo's caption reads: "Almost 1 million descend on iconic Bondi Beach to protest harsh Sydney lockdowns. Authorities overwhelmed".

The same image was shared by Facebook users in several other countries -- including the UK, the US, Slovakia and Czech Republic -- alongside a similar claim.

The claim is false.

Pope visit

A reverse image search on Google found the photo was published in this report by US daily The Los Angeles Times on July 20, 2013.

The photo -- taken by AFP photographer Tasso Marcelo -- was actually taken in July 2013 on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's second-biggest city, during a visit by Pope Francis.

Marcelo captured a crowd estimated to be as large as three million people during a mass celebrated by the pontiff.

Screenshot of AFP database, taken on 23 August 2021 ( AFP)

Below is a screenshot comparison of the image shared in the misleading Facebook posts (L) and the AFP photo (R):

Screenshot comparison between the image seen in the misleading Facebook post (L) and the photo taken by AFP (R). ( AFP)

Australia protests

To date, anti-lockdown protests in Australia have attracted no more than a few thousand people.

On August 21, 2021, protests were staged in several Australian cities following the announcement of tighter pandemic measures.

Hundreds of people were arrested after violent clashes between anti-lockdown protesters and police.

QAnon connection

AFP traced the origin of the image and the claims from the Facebook post to the social network Gab.

The post was originally shared by Gab user "Dr Utsava ND".

Although the original post has since been deleted, AFP found Facebook posts in which the claim was shared via a link to Gab.

Screenshot from social network gab.com, red box added by AFP on August 23, 2021

The "Dr Utsava ND" profile contains a reference to the QAnon conspiracy theory ("#wwgowga") in its description.

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