Fact Check: 'Don't Pump Gas' Boycott Is NOT New -- It's Just Recirculated Old Post

Fact Check

  • by: Christiana Dillard
Fact Check: 'Don't Pump Gas' Boycott Is NOT New -- It's Just Recirculated Old Post Copypasta

Is there a national boycott of gasoline on April 15, 2022, to emulate a successful national protest from April 1997? No, that's not true: A post making that claim is a recycled post - "copypasta" that has circulated in various iterations online since at least 2004, with a new date slapped on it. Except for the date, wording in the recycled post is unchanged, including a reference to April 15, 2011 as though it were a future date.

Additionally, several publications have explained why a one-day national boycott of gas would not significantly lower gas prices -- drivers would still need gas afterwards, so overall demand would be unchanged.

The claim reappeared in a Facebook post (archived here) published on March 17, 2022. The post featured a graphic that read:

Don't pump gas on April, 15 2022!

KEEP SENDING THIS. Let's all try this, wonderful if it helps.

I'll do it! If running low, just get your gas the day before on April 14 or the day after on April 16. Every little bit helps.

In April 1997, there was a 'gas out' conducted nationwide in protest of gas prices. Gasoline prices dropped 30 cents a gallon overnight.

On April 15th 2011, all internet users are to not go to a gas station in protest of high gas prices. Gas is now over $1.20 a liter/$3.87 in most places.

If all users did not go to the pump on the 15th, it would take $2,292,000,000.00 (that's almost 3 BILLION) out of the oil companies pockets for just one day, so please do not go to the gas station on April 15th and let's try to put a dent in the Middle Eastern oil industry for at least one day.

This is what the post looked like on Facebook on March 21, 2022:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Mon Mar 21 20:38 2022 UTC)

There are a few indications that the post is edited and outdated. The "April, 15 2022" date was superimposed on the graphic, seemingly to cover up other information. The graphic also said "On April 15th 2011, all internet users are to not go to a gas station in protest of high gas prices," a date nearly 11 years before the publication of the 2022 Facebook post.

The information included in the graphic also does not appear to be reliable. Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows that during each week of April 1997, there was no drastic drop in national average retail gas prices for gas overall, regular gas, midgrade gas or premium gas. Top results of a Google search for "national gas boycott april 1997" did not generate information about a large-scale national protest. In fact, the top results of the search led to several debunks - some examples are here and here - of the oft-repeated claim.

As explained in an analysis of the claim published by NBC News in 2007, delaying purchasing gas by one day does not eliminate consumers' need for gas. Therefore, the profits lost on one day would inevitably be made another day, unless protesters carpooled or used another mode of transportation that did not use gas.

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  Christiana Dillard

Christiana Dillard is a former news writer for Temple University’s Lew Klein College of Media and Communication. She received her undergraduate degree in English Writing from the University of Pittsburgh. She has been a freelance writer for several organizations including the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation, Pitt Magazine, and The Heinz Endowments. When she’s not producing or studying media she’s binging it, watching YouTube videos or any interesting series she can find on streaming services.

Read more about or contact Christiana Dillard

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