A Facebook post claims to show the “oldest known bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva), estimated to be 4,852 years old”.
It has been viewed 443,200 times since it was first published, but it was flagged as potentially false by Facebook’s fact-checking system.
We took a closer look.
Methuselah is ‘oldest of all living things’
A reverse image search leads to a copy of the photo posted on social media site Pinterest in August 2018. A Pinterest post of the tree is captioned as “oldest tree”. It claims that the tree, named Methuselah, is a 4,852 year old Great Basin Bristlecone Pine.
According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Methuselah is a bristlecone pine located in the Inyo National Forest in the state of California and it is believed to be “the oldest of all living things”.
Estimates of the tree’s age vary, with the USDA estimating that it is 4,789 years old and the California Wilderness Association estimating that it is over 4,840 years old. Its age was estimated in 1957 by a scientist who took core samples of the tree.
The exact location of the tree is kept a secret in order to protect it from vandalism. And according to the New York Times, the forest service is so protective of the tree it will not share any photos of it.
For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false
A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”. What should you do? First, don't delete!
Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.
Africa Check teams up with Facebook
Africa Check is a partner in Facebook’s third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.
The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.
You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.