FACT CHECK: No, these are not ‘then and now’ photos of a Philippine landfill

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Feb 20 2019 04:48 PM

Photos shared hundreds of times on Facebook in February 2019 claim to show “then and now” photographs of Smokey Mountain, a dumpsite in the Philippine capital. 

The posts are inaccurate: the “then” image is actually of a dumpsite in Cambodia and the “now” photo was posted online in 2010.

The images, which were posted on Facebook here and here on February 11, 2019 and shared nearly 2,000 times, claim to show Smokey Mountain in the district of Tondo in Manila both when it was a dumpsite and after a cleanup.

Here is a screenshot of the post:

Screenshot of Facebook post

A reverse image search of the top photograph used in the post led to this website, which shows the work of photographer Nigel Dickinson.

The caption of the original photo says the image shows the Steung Meanchey dump in Cambodia, which is also nicknamed Smokey Mountain.

Here is a screenshot of the photo on Dickinson’s website:

Screenshot of image

The photo on Dickinson’s site and the one on the misleading post both contain these key details: two people sitting in the photo’s foreground with a white bag on the left and a cluster of orange and blue trash to the right.

A reverse search traced the image that appears at the bottom of the misleading post to an account on photo-sharing platform Flickr.

Here is a screengrab of the image on Flickr:

Screenshot of image

According to details posted on Flickr, the photo was taken on November 27, 2010.

Smokey Mountain was a famous landmark in Manila. Thousands of people lived on the dumpsite and earned a living by picking up trash for recycling. 

It was closed in the 1990s and people who lived on the site moved elsewhere. Here is a report from the Asian Development Bank on the closure and life afterwards for the people who lived there.