FACT CHECK: No, this is not a bridge in the Philippines

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Mar 28 2019 08:53 PM | Updated as of Mar 28 2019 08:57 PM

Facebook posts shared thousands of times contain multiple photos of bridges alongside references to a planned infrastructure project connecting two Philippine towns including the phrases "open bridge" and "we can now roam around."

The posts are using the photos in a misleading context; none of them were taken in the Philippines and construction of the planned Philippine bridge has not yet begun.

The posts – for example here, published March 20, 2019, and here, where it has been shared more than 4,800 times since being published July 24, 2017 – carry seven photos showing large suspension and box-girder bridges.

When translated, the caption on the posts, which is written in a mixture of Filipino and English, says:

"Wow, so much wow... from Jetafe Cebu Cordova open Bridge Bohol Philippines easy to travel #WE CAN NOW ROAM AROUND"

Jetafe is a town on the central Philippine island of Bohol. Cordova is another town in the neighboring island of Cebu. The two towns are around 30 kilometers (18 miles) away from each other.

Below is a screenshot of one of the posts:

Comments on the post show that some users believed the images showed a bridge in the Philippines. Other commenters raised doubts over the veracity of the claim, which the original poster replied to.

For example the comments in the screenshots below, with the identity of the users redacted, translated into English say:

1. "Well, no need to ride a boat my dear. We'll just travel by wheels when I have chance to visit Bohol... I hope this ain't fake" ; 2. "Commenter: "Is it really open to the public? Poster: I don't know. I will ask first hahaha... Maybe because there are already vehicles travelling"; 3. "Commenter: Is it true? Poster: Yes it is really true" ; 4. "Let's do a roadtrip heart [name of person] up to Bohol hehe".

The poster does not clarify that the pictures do not show a bridge in the Philippines; the reference to "vehicles travelling" in comment 2 instead links the photos in the post to the claims about the bridge.

However, reverse image searches using Google and Tineye found that all seven photos were taken outside the Philippines.

They actually show bridges in the following locations: France, Greece, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Japan, and two in the United States. Details of the AFP investigation that revealed this are lower down in this article.

The Philippines does plan to build a bridge connecting the islands of Cebu and Bohol, but it is not yet "open."

The project has been reported on by major national news organizations, for example here in the Inquirer and in this Phil Star article dated February 20, 2018 and headlined "Works on Cebu-Bohol bridge may start in 2020".

This report from the Philippines' National Economic Development Authority, dated January 31, 2019, gives the status of flagship infrastructure projects including the bridge between Cebu and Bohol.

It says the "target start of implementation" for construction of the Cebu-Bohol bridge is 2021 and the "target end of implementation" is 2030, as highlighted in the screenshot below:

Here is evidence that the seven photos do not show a bridge in the Philippines:

1. PONT DE NORMANDIE, FRANCE

A reverse image search of the first photo included in the Facebook post traced it back to this photo published July 25, 2013, on image-hosting service Flickr.

The caption on the Flickr photo says: "Amazing bridge in France!"

Below is an image comparing a screenshot of the misleading Facebook post with a screenshot of the photo on Flickr:

A photo of the same bridge was published on stock photography provider iStock here on August 23, 2017, with a caption that says: "Traffic at Pont de Normandie, bridge over river Seine near Le Havre in France."

The image below contains a screenshot of the iStock photo (above) and a screenshot from Google Maps of that location (below):

The Google Maps image, dated September 2018, is taken from a different, less elevated angle, but the distinctive shape of the bridge and its surroundings can be seen as well as road signs that correspond with the iStock and Flickr photos.

2. RION-ANTIRION BRIDGE, GREECE

The second photo in the Facebook post was traced to this PDF file on the website for a conference of the European Civil Engineering Education and Training (EUCEET) Association.

The image below compares the image in the Facebook post with the PDF, which advertises a conference in Patras, Greece on November 24-25, 2011:

AFP searched for more photos of a suspension bridge near the city of Patras in Greece and found this description of the Rion-Antirion Bridge, which connects the peninsula of Peloponnese to mainland Greece, on the website of building company Vinci Construction.

The image below includes a screenshot of the photo of the bridge on the Vinci Construction site and a screenshot of the location on Google Maps:

3. TSING MA BRIDGE, HONG KONG

The third photo in the Facebook post was found in this article titled "List of most beautiful bridges on the world" on the website vkool.com, which says it is the Tsing Ma Bridge in Hong Kong.

The image below compares a screenshot of the Facebook post with a screenshot of the vkool.com article:

Below is an AFP image of Hong Kong's Tsing Ma Bridge, in which the same two vertical columns – split into three sections – can be seen, as well as the same silhoutette of tower blocks in the background:

Below is a screenshot of another photo showing the Tsing Ma bridge here on stock image company dreamstime.com, in which the same looping slipways can be seen as in the Facebook images:

4. SUNSHINE SKYWAY BRIDGE, FLORIDA, USA

The Facebook post's fourth photo, showing a long sea bridge, is the same as this Alamy stock photo of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in the US state of Florida.

The image below compares a screenshot of the Facebook post with a screenshot of the photo as it appears on Alamy's website:

Below is a screenshot from Google Maps of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, in which the same curvature of the road and raised section are visible:

5. LANGKAWI SKY BRIDGE, MALAYSIA

The fifth photo in the Facebook post also appears here on Flickr with the caption: "Langkawi Sky Bridge, Langkawi Island, Malaysia". Langkawi is an archipelago in northwestern Malaysia.

Below is an image comparing the photo in the Facebook post with the photo on Flickr:

Below are two screenshots of the curved pedestrian bridge from Google Maps, in which the distinctive structure and triangular platforms are clearly visible:

6. SEVEN MILE BRIDGE, FLORIDA, USA

A reverse image search traced the sixth photo in the Facebook post to this article dated October 4, 2016 on the website of the photography magazine Shutterbug.

The photo in the Shutterbug article is attributed to Blaine Harrington and its caption says it shows "The Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys from a helicopter".

Below is an image comparing the photo in the Facebook post with a screenshot of the article:

Below is an AFP photo of the bridge taken from a different angle. It also shows dual roads built close to the water with vertical poles between them and part of the bridge passing over an island.

The AFP photo's caption says: "The Seven Mile Bridge is seen from the air looking south from Marathon, Florida February 22, 2011. The Seven Mile Bridge connects Knight's Key (part of the city of Marathon, Florida) in the Middle Keys to Little Duck Key in the Lower Keys.

"Among the longest bridges in existence when it was built, it is one of the many bridges on US 1 in the Keys, where the road is called the Overseas Highway."

7. AKASHI KAIKYO BRIDGE, JAPAN

The seventh and final photo in the Facebook post shows the Akashi Kaikyo bridge in Japan. A reverse image search found the same photo here on the website of Amana Images, a collection of 'Japanese lifestyle' stock photos.

The image below compares a screenshot of the Facebook post with the photo as it appears on amanaimages.com:

AFP's Tokyo bureau translated the Amana Images photo's caption into English. It says, in part: "Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in season of fresh green leaves."

The AFP photo below, taken April 5, 1998, shows the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in Kobe, western Japan. It has the same two vertical columns with a criss-cross structure and a circular base, and the surrounding landscape is also the same: