Fact Check: Photos Of Taylor Swift In Anti-Trump T-Shirt Are NOT Real -- 2019 News Photo Was Doctored To Sell Shirts

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: Photos Of Taylor Swift In Anti-Trump T-Shirt Are NOT Real -- 2019 News Photo Was Doctored To Sell Shirts Edited Photo

Is a photo posted on social media showing Taylor Swift wearing a T-shirt with an anti-Trump slogan on it authentic? No, that's not true: The image has been digitally altered. The original photos of Swift with a flowered headband in her hair were taken on the red carpet of the Time 100 Gala at Lincoln Center in New York City on April 23, 2019. In them, she was wearing a pink and yellow gown, not a T-shirt. These images of Swift, and images of several other celebrities, have been edited to sell T-shirts.

The edited photo of Swift appeared in a post (archived here) published on X on February 1, 2024, with the caption:

I believe our current national nightmare began back in 2011, when Trump started questioning Obama's legitimacy. That overt racism resonated w/ about a 1/3 of our country's least evolved citizens. He provided a permission structure for those same ppl to own their worst instincts.

This is what the post looked like on X at the time of writing:


Twitter screenshot(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Mon Feb 5 15:45:05 2024 UTC)

This fact check will focus on the altered image in the post.

A reverse image search for this photo, using the "most changed" feature from TinEye (archived here), found an exact match for Swift's face in the original red carpet photo. TinEye has a feature, where by mousing over the thumbnail images in the search results, the images can be compared, already sized and rotated to align. The Lead Stories composite image below shows how TinEye identified the original photo and also shows that it was rotated slightly. Clicking the orange "compare" button will toggle back and forth between the two images.


(Source: Lead Stories composite image made with TinEye screenshots taken on Mon Feb 05 19:02:19 2024 UTC)

The original photo was taken as Swift walked the red carpet at the Time 100 Gala on April 23, 2019, wearing a pastel J. Mendel gown and jeweled flower headband. Many more images of Swift at the gala are featured on the stock photo website Alamy.


(Source: Lead Stories composite image with X and taylorswiftnopenotagain.store screenshots taken on Mon Feb 05 18:43:30 2024 UTC)

Another reverse image search with Google Lens (archived here) for the photo in the post, found many duplicates have been posted on X. A search on X for "nope not again" (archived here) returns many results with altered celebrity photos: not only Swift, but Tom Hanks, Hillary Clinton, and Nancy Pelosi. One January 19, 2024, post from the @maga2024shop (archived here) links to the website taylorswiftnopenotagain.store (pictured above). Another January 19, 2024 post from an account named Taylor Swift Nope Not Again T-Shirts @t_s_taylorswift (archived here) links to the same website. The slogan was offered on a variety of apparel in many colors. The site also shows two additional altered photos of Swift made to look as if she is wearing the shirt. These edited variations feature another angle of Swift's face from the same Time 100 Gala, and two different backgrounds, one with an American flag.

Directly under the post with the altered Swift photo, @AginsMichael made a post on February 1, 2024, with an altered image featuring Michelle Obama (pictured below left). The altered image used a photo taken from a June 1, 2023, post on Instagram where the former first lady was promoting her line of merchandise and wearing a yellow T-shirt with the letters TLWC.


Additional Lead Stories fact checks featuring photos that were edited to add politicized slogans on shirts worn by celebrities can be found here.

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  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


Read more about or contact Sarah Thompson

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