A photograph showing a heart-shaped pothole was widely shared on social media on Tuesday, with many describing it as an unwelcome Valentine’s Day gift from Infrastructure Malta.
The image, showing a pothole so typical of many Maltese roads, led many social media users to believe that it was the result of last week’s heavy rainfall.
One particular post by the Malta Weather Facebook page was shared over 270 times with thousands of people liking or commenting on the post, many of them concerned that it may lead to an accident or damage to their cars.
Others chose to see the lighter side, joking that it’s an unusual but effective way to spread love on a special day.
Malta Weather had also posted the same image on Valentine’s Day in 2019 and 2020, using the same description.
Is the pothole really in Malta?
No, a reverse-image search shows that the photo is widely shared around the world each year on Valentine’s Day.
The first widespread use of the photo can be traced back to February 2019 when a popular Mexican YouTuber known as Quackity posted it to Twitter with the caption “So beautiful to see my country getting ready for Valentines”.
The image was also used in different countries, with one website in Jordan posting it under the headline “Amman Municipality prepares for Valentine’s Day” on Valentine’s Day 2019.
A Serbian website also posted the image, describing it as a “mysterious hole” that some claim “originates in Novi Sad, others in Belgrade”, before concluding that it is an urban legend.
The image was also shared earlier today by a Facebook page called South Yorkshire Mobility, describing it as a Valentine’s Day gift from Transport Rotherham, echoing Malta Weather’s post.
The photo has already appeared several times on popular meme sites, each time attributed to different North American cities including Ohio, Massachusetts and Ottawa.
Several individual Facebook users have also posted the image of the years, invariably claiming that it is from their hometown, ranging from New Orleans to Indiana, USA.
Although this particular pothole may not be in Malta, local road users are nonetheless spoilt for choice, with Malta’s roads being blighted with several curiously-shaped potholes popping up following Storm Helios.
The photo is widely shared on several international websites and social media pages each Valentine’s Day, each claiming to be taken in their respective locality. The true origin of the photo remains unknown.
The claim is therefore false as the evidence clearly refutes the claim.
The Times of Malta fact-checking service forms part of the Mediterranean Digital Media Observatory (MedDMO) and the European Digital Media Observatory (EDMO), an independent observatory with hubs across all 27 EU member states that is funded by the EU’s Digital Europe programme. Fact-checks are based on our code of principles.
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