The ‘anti-vaxxer kiss-in’ in Germany that wasn’t

A viral post claims thousands of “anti-vaxxers” in Germany staged a kissing protest, citing DW as the source. But the whole thing is fake. The photo was taken in Chile a decade ago.

Fake Photo: This image was used to spread fake news about anti-vaccine protests in Germany

09 December 2021 | Joscha Weber | DW

“Mistletoe, anyone?” asks a Facebook user sarcastically, posting what purports to be a screenshot of a news article. It looks as if it has been taken from DW News, DW’s English news service.

Claim: The headline of the supposed DW article reads: “German anti-vaccine protests outrage public health officials as thousands gather to kiss each other.” It is accompanied by a photo of the alleged protest.

DW Fact Check: False.

The photo is not of vaccine opponents in Germany. And DW has written no such article or headline. The photo is not even recent — it’s 10 years old.

Screenshot of a fake news Facebook post showing a crowd of people kissing and a misleading headline

This image, posted by a Facebook user, is a fake. DW has neither heard about nor reported on any anti-vaccine “kissing” protests in Germany. The photo is 10 years old, and was taken in Chile.

A reverse image search, using tools like TinEye or Google, led the DW fact-checking team to student protests in Chile. A blog listed in the search results assigns the photo to a student protest action in the Chilean city of Concepcion in the summer of 2011.

A search with the European press photo agency EPA also states that the photo was taken in Chile, but gives Santiago as the location, and says that the occasion was the “World Kiss Marathon” for better education. Here, too, the photo is recorded as having been taken in 2011.

‘Kiss-in’ protests in Chile in 2011

The background to the event depicted in the photo was a series of protests by Chilean school pupils and students. These took place from 2011 to 2012, to demand a comprehensive reform of the country’s education system. One form of protest was a so-called kiss-in, as reported at the time by international outlets including the New York Times and the BBC.

Furthermore, there have been no reports of any mass “kiss-ins” by anti-vaccination protesters in Germany. The headline is also a fake. DW has not heard about or reported on any such event. Neither search engines nor an internal DW search bring up any such headline, nor could it be found on any other medium.

The subheading in the post, which claims that  “lawmakers” in Germany are considering a law “to criminalize kissing in public spaces,” is also false. There is no such draft law, nor is any German politician known to have suggested any such thing. Kissing in public is not forbidden in Germany.

Both the photo and the supposed report are therefore completely fictitious.

This article was translated from the original German.


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