Fact check: Photo altered to show Jeffrey Epstein posing with Joe Biden

·4 min read

The claim: A photo shows President Joe Biden posing with Jeffrey Epstein

The start of Ghislaine Maxwell's sex trafficking trial has seen a resurgence of online misinformation about the socialite and her ties to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein. Many of the falsehoods focus on specific aspects of her trial.

But other popular posts on social media rehash an old misinformation trope: altered photos of Epstein standing next to public figures.

A Nov. 30 Facebook post shows an image of President Joe Biden smiling next to Epstein.

"Okay, Facebook wants to play fact checkers with me then," reads the post's caption. "Let’s play…."

The post, which accrued more than 1,900 shares in one day, was published the day after the start of Maxwell's federal criminal trial. She's accused of procuring underage girls for Epstein to sexually abuse.

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USA TODAY has debunked images that claim to show Epstein posing with Vice President Kamala Harris and Chief Justice John Roberts. This latest image is also altered.

USA TODAY reached out to the Facebook user who shared the image for comment.

Original photo showed Epstein with businessman

The image in the Facebook post combines two separate photos of Biden and Epstein, as other independent fact-checking organizations have pointed out.

In one photo, taken in 2005 by photographer Patrick McMullan for Getty Images, Epstein is seen posing with businessman José Francisco "Pepe" Fanjul. Cropped versions of the image have been published by several media outlets over the years.

Audrey Strauss, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, points  to a photo of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell during a news conference in New York on July 2, 2020.
Audrey Strauss, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, points to a photo of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell during a news conference in New York on July 2, 2020.

Getty Images confirmed to USA TODAY that the original photo did not include Biden.

"We no longer represent this image, but we have confirmed with The Patrick McMullan Co. that the image posted on Facebook has been manipulated and President Biden does not feature in the original photograph," Bob Ahern, director of archive photography, said in an email.

The image of Biden stems from a separate event and did not feature Epstein.

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The photo is part of a gallery from the Friedlander Group, a "boutique political firm" based in New York City. It shows Biden posing with CEO Ezra Friedlander during a meeting in the lead-up to the 2008 presidential election.

USA TODAY reached out to McMullan and the White House for comment.

Our rating: Altered

Based on our research, we rate ALTERED a photo that claims to show Biden posing with Epstein. The image was created using two separate photos of Biden and Epstein, neither of which shows one man posing with the other.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Photo of Jeffrey Epstein and Joe Biden is altered

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