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France's free condom initiative misleadingly shared as Sri Lankan policy

AFP Fact Check 12/18/2022 AFP Sri Lanka

Social media users have been misled by a post into believing that Sri Lanka has decided to make condoms free for people aged between 18 and 25, citing a local news report. But the report in fact referred to a recent decision to provide free condoms for young adults in France, not Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan officials told AFP that the government did not operate such a programme.

The claim was shared here on Facebook on December 9 alongside an image.

It features a photo collage of what appears to be a news graphic and a screenshot of a Facebook user's comment.

© Provided by AFP Fact Check Screenshot of the misleading Facebook post, captured on December 14, 2022.

The Sinhala-language text superimposed on the news graphic translates to English as: "A decision made to make condoms free to the youth aged between 18 and 25". It does not specify where the policy was made.

The graphic bears the logo of Hiru News, one of the major broadcasters in Sri Lanka.

A line below the graphic reads: "Condoms should have been given to the fathers of those who governed the country."

An identical claim was also shared on Facebook here, here and here.

Comments on the posts showed some users believed the decision was made by the Sri Lankan authorities and the condoms would be given out in the south Asian country.

"Trust Ranil (first name of the Sri Lankan president) to get the priorities straight -- the country is in economic turmoil but his priority is to give away condoms," one user wrote.

"This is a good decision, with prices of everything skyrocketing (in Sri Lanka), condoms too have increased in price," another commented.

However, the decision to make condoms available for free in pharmacies for people aged between 18 and 25 was made in France, not Sri Lanka.

Officials at both the Family Health Bureau and the National STD/AIDS control programme in Sri Lanka told AFP on December 15 that the country did not operate such a programme.

Initiative in France

A keyword search on Google found an identical news graphic published here on Hiru News' verified Facebook page on December 9.

Hiru News' Facebook post shared a link to one of its reports published on the same day titled: "A decision made to make condoms free to the youth aged between 18 and 25".

The report reads in part: "President Emmanuel Macron announced yesterday (08) that youngsters will receive free condoms in an effort to reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases in France. Consequently, those aged 18 to 25 will receive free condoms at pharmacies throughout France."

A separate keyword search on Google found this AFP report published on December 8, detailing France's plan to make condoms free for such age groups.

"French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday that condoms would be made available for free in pharmacies for 18- to 25-year-olds in a bid to reduce unwanted pregnancies among young people," the report reads in part.

"The move comes after the government began offering this year free birth control for all women under 25, expanding a scheme targeting under-18s to ensure young women do not stop taking contraception because they cannot afford it."

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