A photo of a nativity scene next to a homeless camp under a bridge has been repeatedly shared in social media posts since Christmas Day 2020 alongside a claim it was taken in Sri Lanka. The posts circulated online as Sri Lanka battled an economic crisis that has been deepened by the coronavirus pandemic. In reality, the photo was taken in Brazil.
The photo was shared here on Facebook on December 25, 2020.
Its Sinhala-language caption translates as: "Jesus too was born in a stable / So the Christmas is also for the poor / This is under the Nugegoda bridge".
Nugegoda is a suburb located just outside of Sri Lanka's capital Colombo.
Screenshot of the Facebook post captured on December 24, 2021
The post circulated online amid an economic crisis in Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka, where the Christian minority has been the target of harassment and violence.
The island's tourism-dependent economy has been hammered by the pandemic, AFP reported.
"We are witnessing these scenes thanks to the governance of the Rajapaksas," one user commented, referring to the island nation's leaders that hail from the same political family.
Another said: "This is in Nugegoda right? Where are the local government bodies? Why aren't they helping these people?"
But the photo was in fact taken in the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil's economic capital.
It corresponds to a similar image published here by the Brazilian newspaper Estadao on December 25, 2020.
The nativity scene was created by a couple living on the street from discarded items they found, according to the report.
Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo in the misleading posts (L) and the image published by Estadao (R) with corresponding elements highlighted in yellow by AFP:
Screenshot comparison of the misleading posts' image (L) and the photograph published in Estadão (R). Similarities have been highlighted by AFP in yellow.
Based on the road name given in the report, AFP found the location here on Google Maps:
Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo in the misleading posts (L) and the Google Street View of the location in Sao Paulo (R):
Screenshot comparison of the photo in the misleading posts (left) and the Google Street View of the location in Sao Paulo (right).
AFP reported here on the plight of homeless people during the pandemic in Sao Paulo.