Image of a poster on a New York subway train showing Jordan Neely’s death has been digitally manipulated

By: Ankita Kulkarni
May 24 2023

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Image of a poster on a New York subway train showing Jordan Neely’s death has been digitally manipulated


The Verdict False

The original image shows an HIV awareness poster from 2015, which has been edited and falsely linked to the death of Jordan Neely.

Claim ID 2ec76311


A 30-year-old homeless man Jordan Neely was killed on May 1, 2023, in a New York City (NYC) subway train after he was choked to death by a former U.S. Marine, Daniel Penny. Penny has been charged with second-degree manslaughter. BBC News reported that Neely was homeless and was shouting at passengers on the train, but there was no indication of a physical attack. Neely was later confronted by Penny, who held him in a chokehold that proved fatal. Penny was granted a cash bail on May 13 and asked to return to court on July 17.

Days after the incident, a post circulated on social media showing a poster in a subway train with an image of Neely being choked by Penny. The text on the poster reads, “This could be you. Quit f**king around on the subway.” The logo of the NYC MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) can also be seen on the poster. This image was shared by a Twitter user who wrote, “What to you think of N.Y.C.’s new ad campaign?” The picture was widely shared on Instagram with the claim that Neely’s death is being “celebrated as a victory”. However, the image has been digitally altered and shared with false claims. 

In Fact

A reverse image of the viral picture led us to an article published by the New York Times on December 18, 2015. The report shows that the original poster does not feature Neely and Penny, but provides awareness of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. the original poster shows a man and a woman embracing against a pink background, alongside the text: ‘We Play Sure, PeEP + Condoms’. On comparing this and the viral image, we found several similarities — the girl wearing a brown jacket standing beside the poster by the train’s door, the blue colored seat below the billboard, a bald man in the background at some distance, and a portion of a person’s shoulders captured in the frame. 

A New York Times report from 2015 noted that the poster was part of an ad campaign set by NYC. public health body to promote safe sex and a broader initiative to promote PrEP. PrEP, which stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis, is the method of using certain HIV drugs formulated into a single pill that prevents the spread of the virus. It noted that the campaign was accompanied by the tagline “Play Sure” and several such posters were made as part of the campaign, including the one seen on the subway train. We found a YouTube video posted by NYC. Health on December 2, 2015 that features the ad campaign. The original couple from the PrEP advert is visible. 

The Verdict

A digitally altered image is being shared with a false claim that N.Y.C. subway trains are carrying posters of Daniel Penny and Jordan Neely to warn people to behave on trains. Therefore, we have marked the claim as false. 

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We rely on information to make meaningful decisions that affect our lives, but the nature of the internet means that misinformation reaches more people faster than ever before