On Sept. 8, 2021, a Facebook user posted a photograph of a woman attempting to pump gas with a handle covered by a yellow bag that read, “sorry, out of service.” Also featured in the picture was a “Build Back Better Biden” bumper sticker, purportedly showing that the woman was a supporter of U.S. President Joe Biden.
However, further study showed that the bumper sticker was digitally added into the photo, turning a nonpolitical moment into a politically misleading one. Some of the user comments even turned racial.
We found the same digitally altered photograph was tweeted by the conservative organization Young Americans for Liberty and received tens of thousands of shares.
The doctored picture was also posted a seemingly endless number of times by other accounts on social media.
Some social media comments suggested that the woman attempting to pump gas might have been given the yellow bag to protect her hands from potential infection during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the picture appeared to have been posted in the days following the ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline, which might make sense in terms of why the gas pump was out of service.
Other comments on social media seemed to poke fun at the fact that the woman pumping gas was wearing a mask outdoors. However, it’s possible that the woman was experiencing symptoms and was wearing a mask to help protect others while out of her home, something that the CDC recommends.
In sum, a viral photograph showed a woman attempting to pump gas with a yellow “sorry, out of service” bag covering the handle. The Biden bumper sticker was digitally added into the gas pump picture after it was captured.