Photo of Obama family on Jeffrey Epstein's island has been digitally altered

By: Ishita Goel
December 15 2023

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Photo of Obama family on Jeffrey Epstein's island has been digitally altered

Social media posts claim that this Obama family photo was clicked at Jeffrey Epstein's island. (Source: Facebook/X/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict Fake

The original photo of former U.S. President Barack Obama’s family is from an island in Hawaii and not from Jeffrey Epstein's private island.

Claim ID b294fc06

What is the claim?

A photo of former U.S. President Barack Obama, his wife Michelle, and their two daughters on an island has gone viral. This image, which some are insinuating was taken on Epstein Island, features a blue and white striped building in the background. This building is purportedly the same as the infamous structure on Jeffrey Epstein's private Caribbean island.

Social media users have drawn attention to this building, using arrows in their posts, accompanied by captions like "Nice family photo on Epstein Island, Obama and big mike." Another user remarked, "Out of all the places to take a family photo..."

Archived versions of such posts can be accessed here and here.

Screenshots of the viral posts on social media. (Source: Instagram/X/Modified by Logically Facts)

What are the facts?

A reverse image search reveals that the viral image has been digitally altered. The original photo, posted by Michelle Obama on Instagram on August 4, 2020, was captioned, "Happy birthday to my favorite guy. Here's to all the good days, blue skies, and new adventures to come." Notably, the controversial building is absent in the original image.

Screenshot of Michelle Obama's Instagram post. (Source: Instagram/Michelle Obama)

People magazine, in their August 4, 2020, issue, included the former First Lady’s Instagram post in a report. The article highlighted the throwback family photo shared by Michelle in celebration of Barack Obama's 59th birthday, featuring the couple with their daughters Malia and Sasha. 

Comparison of the viral image to the one in Michelle’s post. (Source: Facebook/X/Modified by Logically Facts)

The building was superimposed on the original image before circulating it with the false claim.

Epstein, a convicted sex trafficker and financier, died by suicide in 2019 while awaiting trial. His private island has been the subject of numerous conspiracy theories.

Newtral, an IFCN-accredited Spanish fact-checking organization, was able to geolocate the photo. They determined that it was taken in Hawaii, specifically in South Oahu. Newtral's analysis using Google Earth confirmed that the exact location of the Obama family photo coincides with the Lānaʻi viewpoint, in the southeast of the island of Oahu (about 18 kilometers from Honolulu).

In contrast, Epstein's private island, Little Saint James, is located in the United States Virgin Islands, in the Caribbean. The blue-and-white striped building seen in the viral photo has been the subject of controversy. The building, which had piqued the interest of many, was initially topped with a golden dome, the form in which it is seen in the viral photo. However, according to Insider, the dome flew off during a hurricane in 2017.

The verdict

The viral image, purporting to show the Obama family on Jeffrey Epstein's private island, has been conclusively proven to be a digitally altered fake. The original photo was taken in a completely different location, with no connection to Epstein's island.

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