AP- Not Real News: A look at what didn't happen this week.


Well-Known Member
Screen Shot 2021-01-01 at 7.12.44 AM.png
A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. None of these are legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked them out. Here are the facts:


Nashville explosion was caused by a bomb, not a missile

CLAIM: Video shows that Nashville explosion was caused by a missile or some kind of directed energy weapon.

THE FACTS: The explosion was caused by a bomb inside a parked recreational vehicle in downtown Nashville. Social media users shared grainy surveillance video from the Dec. 25 explosion, and pointed to a streak of smoke to falsely claim that the blast was caused by a bomb or a directed energy weapon. “Looking like a missile strike now. Video proof. Explains why the airspace was locked down,” wrote one Twitter user on Dec. 26. Similar false claims circulated widely on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and Parler. Police were responding to a report of shots fired when they encountered the RV blaring a recorded warning that a bomb would detonate in 15 minutes. Police have identified Anthony Quinn Warner, 63, who was killed in the explosion, as the person responsible for the blast. A motive has not been determined. Surveillance video from a Metro Nashville Police Department camera at the intersection of 2nd Avenue North and Commerce Street captured the explosion and offers proof that the blast came from the parked recreational vehicle. Social media users were sharing a different grainy, black-and-white surveillance video from a local business that showed the explosion from a distance. WKRN-TV, a Nashville television station, aired the footage. Posts pointed to what appears to be a streak of smoke captured in the video, falsely asserting it was a “missile trail” from a strike in the area. Other posts said a directed energy weapon caused the damage.

A frame-by-frame review of the video revealed the smoke was ascending from the source of the blast. “That is not a missile strike. Missiles don’t leave smoke trails as they come back down,” Jeffrey Lewis, an expert at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies told The Associated Press in an email. The explosion outside an AT&T building in downtown Nashville, interfered with communications in several Southern states, damaged dozens of buildings and injured three people, the AP reported. Some posts falsely alleged a missile targeted AT&T because the company got a contract to do a forensic audit of Dominion Voting Systems machines and those machines were recently moved to the AT&T building in Nashville that was damaged in the explosion.

AT&T not conducting voting machine audit near Nashville explosion site

CLAIM: AT&T got a contract to do a forensic audit of Dominion Voting Systems machines and those machines were recently moved to Nashville, Tennessee — to the same AT&T building that was damaged in a Christmas morning explosion.

THE FACTS: AT&T did not have a contract to audit Dominion machines and was not holding Dominion machines in its Nashville building, both companies confirmed to The Associated Press. But as federal officials work to piece together a motive for the Christmas morning blast that rattled downtown Nashville, including damage to an AT&T-owned building, social media users have made baseless claims connecting the explosion to voting machines used in the Nov. 3 election. “AT&T got a contract to do forensic audit on Dominion voting machines and those machines were being moved to Nashville this past week,” read one post. “So, the explosion ‘just happened’ to be at the AT&T location where they ‘just so happen’ to control the cooling system for the super computer and house the dominion voting machines and drives for forensic audit…” Another groundless post reads: “Wait, the bombing in Nashville was at the AT&T data center right after they got the contract to audit the Dominion voting machines? That’s an interesting coincidence.”

Spokespeople for AT&T and Dominion confirmed to the AP that AT&T had no contract to audit Dominion machines, and no Dominion machines were to be sent to Nashville. Some of the posts attempted to further link AT&T to Dominion by claiming a former owner of the AT&T building was a board member of a firm that owns Dominion. Cerberus Capital Management, the firm named in the posts, does not own Dominion, nor does it own the company that does own Dominion, Staple Street Capital. “Dominion has no connection to AT&T, the building, Nashville, family members of the Bidens or the Clintons, and Staple Street is not owned by Cerberus,” said Tony Fratto, a partner at the public relations firm Hamilton Place Strategies who emailed the AP on behalf of Dominion. “These are conspiracies manufactured out of whole cloth.” Dominion has been the target of a wide range of false posts since American voters chose Joe Biden as their next president, despite no evidence of widespread fraud or irregularities in the 2020 election.

Brother of Georgia SOS is not a Chinese tech firm executive

CLAIM: Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has a brother, Ron, who works for a Chinese tech firm, Huawei.

THE FACTS: Social media posts and a fictitious story circulating online falsely claim that the top election official in Georgia has a brother named Ron, who works as an executive for the Chinese tech giant Huawei. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger does not have a brother named Ron, his office confirmed Wednesday. He has three sisters and a brother, his office said. A 2018 family obituary the AP reviewed also confirms his brother is not named Ron. Social media posts making the false claim suggest Raffensperger should be investigated because of his brother’s Huawei connection.

The company has been at the center of rising tensions between the U.S. and Chinese over technology security. President Donald Trump’s administration has imposed restrictions on the Chinese company, cutting off its access to U.S. components and technology. Trump also tweeted out the false claim about Raffensperger’s brother on Tuesday night. “Now it turns out that Brad R’s brother works for China and they definitely don’t want ‘Trump’. So disgusting!” Trump said in his inaccurate tweet. Raffensperger, who oversees Georgia’s elections, has been the target of death threats and misinformation since President Donald Trump’s presidential race loss in Georgia by more than 11,000 votes. A spokesman for Huawei did not immediately respond to AP’s request for comment.


Well-Known Member
Posts misrepresent study examining household coronavirus transmission

CLAIM: University of Florida researchers found “no asymptomatic or presymptomatic spread of Covid” in a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

THE FACTS: Social media users are misrepresenting a recent study, leading to the spread of misinformation about COVID-19. A false post that was shared on Dec. 27 reads: “University of Florida researchers have found no asymptomatic or presymptomatic spread of Covid. The study was published online by the Journal of the American Medical Association. This could change everything.” The post had amassed more than 35,000 retweets a day later, and was also shared widely on Facebook. Social media users shared the false post to justify arguments that shutting down businesses and schools during the pandemic was unnecessary. But a spokesperson for the network of journals published by the Journal of the American Medical Association confirmed to The Associated Press that no study with such conclusions had been published by the network. “Numerous reports support transmission of SARS-CoV-2 by individuals who are asymptomatic,” Deanna Bellandi, media relations manager for JAMA Network wrote in an email. “Claims that any JAMA Network journal has published evidence to the contrary is incorrect and misleading.”

The false claims follow the release of a study by University of Florida researchers that was published on Dec. 14 on the website of JAMA Network Open, one of the journals in the JAMA network. The study analyzed data from 54 previous studies about household spread of SARS-CoV-2, and found rates of transmission to other household members was higher if the infected person had symptoms rather than was asymptomatic. The analysis also found transmission was higher between adults rather than children, and between spouses rather than other family contacts. The study did not conclude there is no asymptomatic or presymptomatic spread of COVID-19 as social media users claim it does. “No, no we didn’t say that,” said Natalie E. Dean, a co-author of the study and a University of Florida assistant professor of biostatistics “This is a misinterpretation of our message of our scientific findings and conclusions.” Dean said it is important for the public to understand her study was only analyzing household studies and there is limited data at this point. She said “there does seem to be evidence that people who never have symptoms do appear to be less infectious,” but she said that does not mean that people without symptoms cannot transmit the virus that causes COVID-19.

“Certainly we are seeing presymptomatic transmissions before they develop symptoms,” Dean said, a point that is also made clearly in the article text. She called presymptomatic transmission “an important feature of this virus” and said “our policies need to reflect that.” People who are infected with COVID-19 but are not experiencing symptoms cannot know whether or not they will develop them. Dean noted that even if it is the case that people who have symptoms and are coughing are more infectious, someone without symptoms could wind up spreading the virus more if they are continuing to interact with other people. The published study says “important questions remain” about household spread, including how infectious asymptomatic, mildly ill and severely ill cases are.

There were not more votes than voters in Pennsylvania

CLAIM: There were 205,000 more votes than voters in the 2020 election in Pennsylvania.

THE FACTS: A misleading claim about election results based on incomplete data is circulating widely on social media a week before Congress meets to reaffirm Joe Biden’s decisive presidential win. The claim emerged in a Monday press release from Pennsylvania Republican state lawmakers, including state Rep. Frank Ryan. “A comparison of official county election results to the total number of voters who voted on Nov. 3, 2020, as recorded by the Department of State shows that 6,962,607 total ballots were reported as being cast, while DoS/SURE system records indicate that only 6,760,230 total voters actually voted,” the release said. The claim then spread to several right-wing websites and social media influencers, including Trump, whose tweet claiming Pennsylvania had 205,000 more votes than voters was retweeted more than 117,000 times. However, these claims rely on incomplete data, according to Wanda Murren, communications director for the Pennsylvania Department of State, who called the lawmakers’ release “obvious misinformation.”

It was not immediately clear where the numbers cited in the release originated and Ryan did not respond to a call seeking comment on Tuesday.

However, the apparent reference to SURE (Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors) in Pennsylvania points to state data on the voting history of registered voters, which some large counties have not finished uploading yet. “These counties, which include Philadelphia, Allegheny, Butler and Cambria, would account for a significant number of voters,” Murren told The Associated Press in an emailed statement. “The numbers certified by the counties, not the uploading of voter histories into the SURE system, determines the ultimate certification of an election by the secretary.” The numbers certified by Pennsylvania counties in November show that more than 6.9 million voters cast ballots in the 2020 election, electing Biden the winner by more than 80,000 votes. Social media users in recent weeks have also made similar claims that there were more votes counted than registered voters in battleground states and key cities.

Those claims are easily debunked. In Pennsylvania, for example, there were nearly 7 million votes cast. The total number of registered voters in 2020 was just over 9 million. “This obvious misinformation put forth by Rep. Ryan and others is the hallmark of so many of the claims made about this year’s presidential election,” Murren told the AP in an emailed statement. “When exposed to even the simplest examination, courts at every level have found these and similar conspiratorial claims to be wholly without basis.”


Well-Known Member
Posts falsely claim there are only 133 million registered voters in the US

CLAIM: There are 133 million registered voters in the United States so if President Donald Trump got 74 million votes, President-elect Joe Biden could not have received 81 million votes.

THE FACTS: The number of registered voters in the U.S. is much greater than 133 million. But false claims about the 2020 presidential election persist online, including the bogus allegation that vote tallies in the presidential race don’t add up because they exceed the total number of registered voters in the country.

“Donald Trump got 74 million votes and There are 133 million registered voters in the USA,” reads a popular but inaccurate tweet that was shared thousands of times on both Twitter and Facebook. “If every single registered voter went out and voted there would only be 59 million votes left for Biden. How did he get 81 million votes?” The posts are false because they rely on an incorrect number of total registered voters. A survey of election officials from all over the country by the Election Assistance Commission found there were 211 million Americans on voter rolls ahead of the 2018 election. The 133 million figure shared on social media is also far lower than the more than 136 million ballots cast in the 2016 election. “The number of 133 million registered voters is plainly false,” said Michael McDonald, a University of Florida political scientist who runs the election data site, U.S. Election Project.

While experts all agree the 133 million figure is far too low for 2020, coming up with the precise number of American registered voters at a given moment is not straight forward. Each state manages its own voter rolls, and people are constantly registering, dying and moving to new states, leading to changes in the totals and duplications. Furthermore, states differ in how they manage their rolls. For example, some states have a category of registered voters who are marked as “inactive” and North Dakota does not have voter registration. Jonathan Robinson, lead research scientist at Catalist, which provides voter data and other services to civic and progressive organizations, said it is challenging to pinpoint the number of registered voters in the U.S. “These numbers are ever-evolving, there really isn’t one number,” Robinson said. Robinson estimates the number of registered voters ahead of the Nov. 3 election was somewhere between 195 million and 215 million, depending on how the data is analyzed and which suspected duplicate or ineligible voters were excluded.

Brandi Travis, a spokesperson for the voter list vendor Aristotle, told the AP that the company has more than 215 million registered voters in its database. L2, another voter list vendor whose customers include the AP, estimated the number at eligible registrants at 200 million before the Nov. 3 election. Paul Westcott, L2 senior vice president, said that figure accounted for removing duplicate voters, people who have died and people who appeared on the rolls of more than one state due to a recent move. Most election researchers calculate voter turnout based on the number of eligible voters, rather than how many were registered to vote. The U.S. Elections Project estimates 239 millionAmericans were eligible to vote in the 2020 election based on their age, citizenship and criminal record, and that more than 159 million — or 67.7% — participated. According to Dec. 18 data from the AP, Biden received 81,281,888 votes and Trump received 74,223,251 votes.


Well-Known Member
Facts won't faze conspiracy theorists & apparently the only way to deprogram someone in the Trump cult, per cult expert Steve Hassan, is to bring them around slowly by reminding them of their opinion of Trump before his campaign started. Then at some point they begin to realize that things such as lying, caging children, & separating families isn't a part of their personality.


Well-Known Member
Is this a weekly thing from AP News?

OK. I'll answer my own question. Apparently it was but no longer. Dec. 31 must have been the last one.
Last edited:


Well-Known Member
Is this a weekly thing from AP News?

OK. I'll answer my own question. Apparently it was but no longer. Dec. 31 must have been the last one.
Or just latest one. If that is what you meant, hard to tell if I am not just overthink what you meant now.


Well-Known Member
Or just latest one. If that is what you meant, hard to tell if I am not just overthink what you meant now.
I went to the AP News site which had a link to that weekly section but you get a No Page message.

It seemed like a good service, dispelling conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories are spawning a cult of crazies, especially dangerous, as Rep. Kinzinger said, when the conspiracy theories come from official government services.
Last edited:


Well-Known Member
I went to the AP News site which had a link to that weekly section but you get a No Page message.

It seemed like a good service, dispelling conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories are spawning a cult of crazies, especially dangerous, as Rep. Kinzinger said, when the conspiracy theories come from official government services.
Screen Shot 2021-01-10 at 6.17.53 AM.png
A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. None of these are legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked them out. Here are the facts:


No truth to alleged ‘evidence’ that Capitol rioters were antifa activists

CLAIM: Photos prove that some of the rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday were antifa activists, not Trump supporters.

THE FACTS: There’s no credible evidence to date that rioters who breached the Capitol in an effort to stop certification of U.S. presidential election results were supporters of antifa — a shortened form of “anti-fascists” that’s used as an umbrella term for far-left leaning militant groups. Steven D’Antuono, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office, told reporters Friday there’s “no indication” at this time that antifa activists were disguised as Trump supporters in Wednesday’s riot.

One of several false claims circulating online highlights photos of a bearded man in a yellow sweatshirt who appeared in several images taken inside the Capitol after it was stormed. Social media users compared those photos to an image of a bearded man on the website PhillyAntifa.org. “Indisputable photographic evidence that antifa violently broke into Congress today to inflict harm & do damage,” pro-Trump attorney L. Lin Wood Jr. tweeted on Wednesday. “NOT @realDonaldTrump supporters.”

However, a visit to PhillyAntifa.org shows the bearded man was featured on the website to expose him as a “longtime neo-Nazi.” Also, the bearded man at the Capitol riot on Wednesday and the man in the PhillyAntifa.org photo do not appear to be the same person, according to an analysis of images and the body ink on the two men. Either way, the context of the photo on PhillyAntifa.org shows this alleged “evidence” of antifa activists at the Capitol is baseless.

Other posts focused on a shirtless, tattooed man inside the Capitol who was wearing a fur hat with horns and red, white and blue face paint. “FYI These are NOT Trump supporters....Antifa THUGS” read a widely shared post on Facebook that shared a photo with an arrow pointing to the man. In fact, that man is Jake Angeli, a regular at pro-Trump events and a known follower of QAnon, a baseless conspiracy theory based on the idea that Trump is secretly fighting deep state enemies and a cabal of child sex traffickers.

Some social media posters pointed to a cropped photo of Angeli from a previous protest to claim it was evidence he was part of the Black Lives Matter movement. It showed Angeli in the foreground and a crowd with an anti-police sign in the background. Social media users seized upon the photo to claim it proved Angeli and others inside the Capitol were left-wing infiltrators. But Brett Lewis, who had first shared the photo on Twitter, clarified to the AP that he had observed Angeli disrupting a Black Lives Matter event in June, not participating in it. An uncropped photo from the June event shows Angeli’s sign read, “Q SENT ME,” a reference to QAnon.

There is photo evidence, however, proving Angeli has attended pro-Trump events for some time. His distinctive tattoos and unique headwear can be seen in a Nov. 7 Associated Press photo at a rally of Trump supporters protesting election results outside of the Maricopa County election center in Phoenix. In that photo, Angeli held a sign that read, “HOLD THE LINE PATRIOTS GOD WINS.” Angeli also expressed his support for the president in an interview with the AP that day. The AP reached out to Angeli on one of his social media accounts for this story but did not hear back.

Another claim circulated in a now-corrected story by The Washington Times falsely suggesting a facial recognition company called XRVision had identified protesters at the Capitol as antifa activists. A founder of XRVision said in a statement that the company identified some individuals at the Capitol as affiliates of “known Nazi organizations,” but not as antifa activists.


NPR headline not written before Trump supporters stormed Capitol

CLAIM: An NPR story headlined “Trump Supporters Storm U.S. Capitol, Clash With Police” was published on Wednesday at 9:33 a.m., before the insurrection, proof that the violence was staged.

THE FACTS: NPR did not publish news about the insurrection before it occurred. The story provided a running account of developments around protests at the Capitol as Congress met to certify electoral votes in the presidential election.

The story was initially published at 9:33 a.m. The link shows the original headline referenced the electoral college tallying votes. President Donald Trump called on followers to gather in Washington on Wednesday to demonstrate against the certification of the vote electing Joe Biden president. In addressing the protesters Trump repeated numerous unfounded claims of election fraud and then encouraged demonstrators to go to the Capitol as lawmakers debated the electoral votes.

The demonstration turned violent as thousands stormed the Capitol, breaching security and rampaging through the building, where lawmakers had to be evacuated. Following the violence, posts circulated on social media showing a screenshot of an NPR headline along with a time stamp from hours before the events occurred to falsely claim that the rioting was staged. The posts were used as part of a false narrative that suggests the rioters who stormed the nation’s capital were left-wing activists, not Trump supporters.

“Seriously, how’d they know? STAGED,” said a Twitter post shared Thursday morning with a screenshot of the article with the 9:33 a.m. time stamp. If social media users had read the article before sharing the screenshot, they would have seen that the article was updated at 3:08 p.m. Wednesday, about two hours after Trump supporters headed to the Capitol following Trump’s rally.

A spokesman for NPR confirmed to the AP that the original story was posted at 9:33 a.m. and that the text was updated throughout the day. “I can confirm that NPR is neither clairvoyant nor were we a part of a conspiracy of people who staged the events yesterday,” Ben Fishel, a media relations spokesman, said in an email.

Photo shows Pelosi’s son-in-law reporting at Capitol riot

CLAIM: Nancy Pelosi’s son-in-law helped rioters access the U.S. Capitol.

THE FACTS: The false claim stems from a photo of Pelosi’s son-in-law, a Dutch American journalist, while he was reporting outside the Capitol on Wednesday. Michiel Vos, who is married to Pelosi’s daughter, was reporting on the insurrection for the Dutch television channel RTL 4’s talk show Jinek.

The image shows Vos outside the Capitol with a rioter who was also photographed storming the building. The protester, Jake Angeli, wore a furry hat with horns. The photo of the two was shared on social media to promote the false theory that the riot had somehow been staged and Vos had helped. “How come this guy in the buffalo costume walked straight into the chamber for a photo op? Did he have a special pass? NO! He is friends with Pelosis’ son pictured here,” read one false post that was widely shared on Facebook.

The photo was also used in posts that made the baseless claim that antifa was behind the insurrection. “Antifa capitol stormer allegedly with Nancy pelosi’s son in law. .Vos. Is that how they got in?” a Facebook user wrote. The post has since been deleted.

There is no evidence Angeli, a known Trump supporter, is an antifa activist, or that he was assisted by Vos. In an email, Vos told the AP, “I was in DC covering the events outside the Capitol.” In a phone interview with the Dutch TV program, Vos said that Pelosi, his wife and son had to take shelter inside the building, while he reported from outside the building.


Well-Known Member
Photo does not show shredded ballots in Georgia

CLAIM: Photo shows shredded ballots found in Dell boxes in Georgia as election workers count the vote.

THE FACTS: The photos being shared online do not show shredded ballots.

As election workers counted votes for Georgia’s Senate runoffs Tuesday night, posts online began suggesting that votes were being stolen or that fraud was taking place. One tweet that was retweeted more than 23,000 times included a photo taken at the Georgia World Congress Center in Fulton County, claiming it showed shredded ballots. A screenshot of the tweet was widely shared across social media.

In the photo, shredded paper can be seen next to boxes. Amy Coello, who describes herself as a motivational speaker, tweeted the photos on Tuesday. She could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday. “Our team is in Georgia. They took a little walk. They found shredded ballots in Dell boxes. Police came as well. They wanted to confiscate phones with evidence. Here is just the first few photos,” her post said.

Fulton County election officials confirmed to the AP that the photos being shared online did not show shredded ballots. A large number of voters opted to use absentee ballots, which come in two envelopes that are opened and counted, said Jessica Corbitt-Dominguez, a spokeswoman for Fulton County. “We have tens of thousands of ballots to open and use envelope opening equipment to do so,” Corbitt-Dominguez said in an email. “As a result of the process of opening thousands of envelopes, paper waste is left behind.”

The photos shared online showed waste left behind when envelopes are opened, not the ballots themselves. The county used a cutter that cuts the tops off the secondary envelopes used with absentee ballots. “That is what was “discovered,’” Corbitt-Dominguez said of the tweet. “This was explained to the individuals onsite.” Corbitt-Dominguez added that election monitors are advised not to use their cellphones outside of the public observation area per state law. It was not immediately clear whether election monitors took the photos that were shared online.

President Donald Trump suggested that ballots from the Nov. 3 general election were being shredded in the state during a Jan. 2 phone call with Georgia’s secretary of state about the general election. Gabriel Sterling, a top official with the Georgia secretary of state’s office, held a press conference on Monday debunking Trump’s claims. Sterling said, “there is no shredding of ballots.” “That’s not real,” Sterling said. “It’s not happening.”


Photos show emergency ballots, not fake ballots, in Georgia warehouse

CLAIM: Photos show dozens of boxes of counterfeit ballots at a warehouse in Fulton County, Georgia.

THE FACTS: The photos show legitimate emergency ballots, not fake ballots, according to Gabriel Sterling, a top official with the Georgia secretary of state’s office.

Every county in the state is required to print a certain number of emergency ballots in case voting machines are down or another problem arises. In the lead-up to Georgia’s Senate runoff election on Jan. 5, social media users were widely sharing misinformation about emergency ballots photographed in an Atlanta warehouse.

The false claims gained traction the week before the runoff election, with a series of tweets from Patrick Byrne, the former CEO of Overstock.com, who resigned in 2019 after commenting about the “Deep State” in a bizarre company statement. “BIG NEWS: COUNTERFEIT FULTON COUNTY GEORGIA BALLOTS,” read the first tweet, which by Monday had amassed more than 24,000 shares. “On a tip, our operative entered the Fulton County (Atlanta) Warehouse and took this series of photos: THESE ARE FAKE BALLOTS (note the quantity).” The thread continued with several photos, some showing stacks of papers that looked like ballots and others showing boxes labeled with “Fulton” and “Nov 2020 General Election Day.”

Sterling tweeted to address the false claims and further commented in a press conference. “These are the emergency ballots that have been sitting in that warehouse since before the November election very much in plain view of everybody to see,” Sterling said on Monday. “They are not fake ballots, they are real ballots, they are unused ballots.”

The Georgia state election board requires counties to print enough emergency ballots for at least 10% of registered voters in case voting machines are unavailable or other problems should arise. Sterling explained that a COVID-19 outbreak among warehouse staff before they had a chance to test equipment for the November election prompted Fulton County to take additional precautions. The county printed 100% of the ballots it would need to conduct the election entirely with paper ballots if necessary. The ballots were not needed.

On Monday, Fulton County Elections Director Richard Barron confirmed in a digital press conference that the ballots in the photos were emergency ballots. “They’re still there,” Barron said. “They are sitting there on the pallets out in the warehouse as they should.”

No evidence COVID-19 vaccines lead to autoimmune disease

CLAIM: COVID-19 vaccines that rely on messenger RNA technology will teach the body to attack itself, leading to autoimmune disease.

THE FACTS: There is no evidence that the so-called messenger RNA, or mRNA, vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna cause autoimmune disease.

In a 12-minute video that has been viewed more than 350,000 times on Facebook, a nurse practitioner warns people against getting the COVID-19 vaccines based on mRNA technology, falsely claiming that it will teach the body to attack itself and lead to autoimmune disease.

Tamika Morrow, a registered nurse practitioner in Michigan who posted the video to Facebook Dec. 16, provides a faulty account of how the mRNA vaccines work. “So you mean to tell me they want people to get a vaccine that has never been used on human beings before that will send messages to your body to produce the coronavirus spike protein in your body that may cause autoimmune conditions that will be lifelong all to prevent a virus that will last 2-3 weeks,” she says. “They are allowing this whole virus thing to take off the way it is with the intent of getting everybody this vaccine. Stay away from the vaccine.”

Experts say the claim is false and misrepresents how the mRNA vaccines work. The mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 contain a genetic code that trains the immune system to recognize the spike protein on the surface of the virus to generate an immune response and fight it.

Morrow goes on to claim in the video that scientists with Pfizer and Moderna who have researched the vaccines found that there is a possibility that the vaccines cause autoimmune disease.

She presents no evidence of this in the video and autoimmune disease was not described as an adverse reaction in any of the findings for the two vaccines. Autoimmune diseases, which include rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, occur when the immune system attacks itself and is unable to distinguish normal cells from foreign cells.

The Associated Press reached out to Morrow, who defended her claim and questioned how determinations could be made about whether the vaccines are safe since long-term complications would not yet be apparent. In an email, Morrow provided the AP with an article referring to a 2018 journal review on mRNA vaccines that listed autoimmunity among possible adverse reactions. The article was co-authored by Dr. Drew Weissman, who has studied mRNA for decades and participated in groundbreaking research on the molecule.

But when reached by the AP, Weissman said such concerns weren’t applicable with the COVID-19 vaccines because they use a new kind modified RNA. Modified mRNA vaccines have been given to people for five years now. “There is no data that says an mRNA vaccine can cause an autoimmune disease,” he said in an email. “I have not seen or heard of a single report that mRNA vaccines cause autoimmunity.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration found no specific safety concerns or serious side effects before concluding the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines could be used on an emergency basis. The most common side effects for both vaccines were injection site pain, which is typical of vaccines.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that people with autoimmune disease can take the mRNA vaccines. “However, they should be aware that no data are currently available on the safety of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines for them,” the CDC has said. A lack of understanding around how mRNA vaccines work has led to a flurry of misinformation around the vaccines. For example, posts have falsely claimed that the mRNA vaccines alter DNA, which is not true.


Well-Known Member
Screen Shot 2021-01-15 at 4.45.37 PM.png

A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. None of these are legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked them out. Here are the facts: ___

Videos do not show Capitol rioters on no-fly list who were removed from flights
CLAIM: Videos show Capitol rioters who were removed from flights because they are on the federal no-fly list.

THE FACTS: After a violent mob stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, social media users began sharing videos of people in airports or being escorted from planes with claims that they had been placed on the federal no-fly list for taking part in the Capitol insurrection.

Two videos that circulated widely involved passengers who were removed from American Airlines flights that originated at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, North Carolina. The incidents occurred before Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday called on the FBI to add anyone who was identified breaching the Capitol last week to the no-fly list, part of the U.S. government’s Terrorist Screening Database.

American Airlines reviewed the videos and confirmed to The Associated Press that in both incidents the people were removed because they refused to wear face masks as mandated by the airline in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The FBI, which manages the list, said in a statement that it’s considering adding Capitol rioters. One tweeted video, viewed more than 20 million times, shows a man who is visibly upset, yelling in the airport’s boarding area on Jan. 8, saying he was removed from the flight. Social media users who reposted the video falsely claimed it was because he was a Capitol rioter who was on the no-fly list.

The video, first posted to TikTok on Jan. 10, captures the man yelling profanities. “But this is what they do to us. They kicked me off the plane. They called me a f------ Karen. And they want to f------ ruin my life,” he says. American Airlines spokesperson Derek Walls told The Associated Press in an email that the customer was asked to deplane “for refusing to comply with our mandatory face covering policy.” The incident happened last week on a flight from Charlotte to Denver, according to the statement. For months airlines have enforced mask policies introduced to help prevent transmission of COVID-19.

“Those unwilling to comply with American’s face covering policy at any time during their journey may be denied boarding or barred from future travel for the duration of this policy,” Walls wrote. Another clip shows federal air marshals escorting a woman from her seat after an American flight landed because she refused to wear her face mask. Passengers clapped while officers followed her out of the flight. “Another one #NoFlyList,” falsely wrote one Twitter user, who shared the video.

The post had over 600,000 views. However, a Twitter user shared an earlier video showing a scene that led up to the incident. In the clip, the woman isn’t wearing her face mask and yells, “If we don’t stand up, it’s only going to get worse.” Passengers on the plane can be heard in the video saying, “Put your mask on.” Walls said the incident occurred on Jan. 11, during an American Airlines flight from Charlotte to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. “Following multiple requests to comply with mandatory face covering requirements, one passenger stood up and began yelling at flight attendants and surrounding customers,” Walls said. “Federal Air Marshals intervened to help de-escalate and maintain control of the situation for the duration of the flight.”

FBI did not issue statement clearing Trump for Capitol insurrection

CLAIM: The FBI has cleared President Donald Trump “of any guilt, any connection” to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

THE FACTS: The federal law enforcement agency has not made such a statement. On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump for “ incitement of insurrection.

The president had urged his supporters to come to Washington on Jan. 6 to protest election results on the day Congress was set to certify Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election. At a rally that day, Trump made repeated calls to his supporters to fight. “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” he said. As Trump was speaking, his supporters began storming the Capitol in what became a deadly siege.

On a Jan. 7 press call with reporters, federal law enforcement made clear that they are looking into everyone who might have been involved with the attack on the Capitol. “Yes, we are looking at all actors here, not only the people that went into the building,” Michael Sherwin, the acting U.S. attorney in Washington said, adding they could also look at anyone who may have played an ancillary role. “We will look at every actor and all criminal charges.”

While some legal experts have said Trump may have violated federal law by inciting a riot, the legal bar for such a prosecution is high. On Jan. 8, a prosecutor in Sherwin’s office told reporters he did not expect that charge to be filed against Trump or others who spoke at the Jan. 6 rally, though he did say prosecutors will follow the evidence. Yet social media users are spreading false information that the FBI has definitively exonerated Trump from any responsibility. “The FBI has just cleared President Donald Trump of any guilt, any connection to the Jan. 6 attack on our state Capitol,” says a man in a video that has been viewed more than 80,000 times since it first posted to YouTube on Wednesday. “The FBI has just released their findings that this was pre-planned and had nothing to do with President Donald John Trump,” he says. He later adds, “He was partially impeached on this bull nonsense.”

But there is no record of the FBI making such a statement as is described in the video.

In response to an inquiry from The Associated Press, a spokesperson for FBI wrote: “We will direct you to https://www.fbi.gov/wanted/capitol-violence for relevant information and statements made by the FBI.” An AP review of the site did not surface any FBI statements that match the one quoted in the video.

“No, the FBI would not make a statement like that,” said Mary McCord, a former federal prosecutor who is currently the legal director at Georgetown University Law Center’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection. McCord, who has said she believes a criminal investigation of Trump is warranted, said the FBI does not have the authority to ”clear” someone of a crime. Another former federal prosecutor, Laurie Levenson, who teaches at Loyola Law School, told the AP it is far too early to have definitive answers from the federal agency. “It is not how the FBI works,,” Levenson said. “They are in the midst of a huge investigation.” Within six days of the Capitol breach, the FBI announced it had opened 170 criminal cases.


Well-Known Member
Letter supposedly from Pelosi to mayor of Portland, Oregon, was fabricated

CLAIM: In an August letter, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi encouraged Portland, Oregon, Mayor Ted Wheeler to adhere to the Democratic playbook and blame President Donald Trump in response to riots and protests taking place in the city following the death of George Floyd.

THE FACTS: The letter was fabricated.

After rioters were photographed in Pelosi’s office during the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, a letter attributed to Pelosi about the protests in Portland months earlier began circulating on social media. “The good guys (the Alliance) now have Pelosi’s laptop. So now we can read Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s letter to Portland, Oregon mayor Ted Wheeler (Democrat). In this letter, demon Pelosi admits to both 1) fraud and 2) media complicity to fraud,” one Facebook post said.

The made-up letter claims that Pelosi told Wheeler that she had seen his response to the riots in August and that he should “stick to the proven Democratic Play book.” The letter, which uses informal language and features poor grammar, also includes a fake signature. Pelosi’s office confirmed with The Associated Press that the letter was fabricated.

The letter says: “Go on Television and Condemn TRUMP and refuse any assistance! We CANNOT give TRUMP any victory before the election!!!!!” Tim Becker, a spokesperson for Wheeler’s office, also told the AP in an email that the letter was not real.

Trump did not invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807

CLAIM: It has been officially confirmed that the Insurrection Act has been secretly signed by President Donald Trump.

THE FACTS: The president did not invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807 in an effort to stay in office.

To do so he would have to make a public declaration giving clear reasons for the move, which allows a president to call on the military to address a domestic crisis.

Posts circulated before the inauguration saying the move would keep him from being removed from office or being impeached. The U.S. House of Representatives impeached for a second time on Wednesday. This time the charge was “incitement of insurrection” for the deadly siege on the Capitol.

Posts circulating a video making the claim urged Americans to stock up on food, gasoline and prepare for a lockdown under the act. The false posts say that they obtained their information from government sources. “The president is in control of the military,” one Facebook video said. “I told you he wasn’t done yet.”

In the past, presidents have invoked the act in response to domestic disturbances or following natural disasters to restore order and supplement civilian authorities and not supplant them, said Stephen Vladeck, constitutional law professor at the University of Texas Law School. In order for Trump to have invoked the act, he would first have to have announced that those responsible for the insurrection must disperse within a designated amount of time. Then, he could have activated federal troops if there was an emergency without approval from state governors.

Related false posts claimed to be from the president himself. However, the president made no such declaration. “They have no basis in fact and it’s legally implausible,” Vladeck said in response to the posts. “Even if somehow this happened anyway, it would not actually do what the conspiracy theorists say it would do.”

Photo of policeman struggling to hold ballot box in Uganda is from 2016

CLAIM: Photo shows young people in Uganda stopping a policeman from stealing a ballot box during the country’s presidential election on Thursday.

THE FACTS: The photo was taken by The Associated Press, during Uganda’s last presidential election in 2016. It shows a policeman struggling to keep hold of a ballot box as voters surrounded him after a long wait to vote.

In that February 2016 vote, incumbent Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni secured a fifth term in office in an election marred by violence and controversy. “A police officer struggles to keep hold of a box containing voting materials, as excited voters surround him after waiting over 7 hours without being able to vote, at a polling station in Ggaba, on the outskirts of Kampala, in Uganda Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016,” read the caption of the original AP photo.

The five-year-old image was circulating anew on Thursday as Ugandans returned to the polls in another tense presidential election.

“The youth stopping a police man from stealing ballot,” read one tweet with the photo shared more than 1,000 times on Thursday. “5:30 Pm Today Ugandan Youths Stopped This Meniac From Running away With the Ballot Box!” read another tweet with the photo. The tweets misrepresent the image, suggesting it was taken recently.

They also claim it shows a policeman stealing a ballot box, an assumption the original caption shows is false. The misleading posts circulated as Ugandans experienced a nationwide internet blackout launched by authorities after Facebook removed some accounts linked to the incumbent president.

The current Ugandan election has been tainted by widespread violence as authorities clash with the opposition and Museveni’s critics claim he is using the pandemic to militarize the election. Museveni seeks a sixth term against leading opposition challenger Bobi Wine and nine other candidates.

Results are expected by Saturday evening.


Well-Known Member
Screen Shot 2021-01-31 at 7.22.39 AM.png
A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. None of these are legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked them out. Here are the facts:


False claims target Bible used for Biden’s presidential inauguration

CLAIM: President Joe Biden swore on a “Masonic/Illuminati” Bible during his inauguration last week.

THE FACTS: Following Biden’s inauguration, false social media posts spread about the Bible he used to take his oath of office. Some social media users falsely suggested that the several-inches thick Bible, a Biden family heirloom, was “Masonic” or associated with an Illuminati conspiracy. Conspiracy theorists suggest the Illuminati, a purported secret society, wants world domination. Freemasons, a fraternal organization, have been the subject of conspiracy theories since the group was founded over 300 years ago. Some founding fathers were even part of the group.

“Sooo has anyone else realized this yet or???? Masonic/Illuminati Bible that Biden swore on yesterday…” wrote one Facebook user along with a photo of Biden’s hand on the Bible. The false post had 19,000 shares. But in fact, Biden was sworn in on a Douay-Rheims Bible, an English translation of a Latin Bible. The Bible has been in the Biden family since the 1890s. He used the same Bible when he was sworn in twice as vice president and seven times as a senator from Delaware, The Associated Press reported.

“Nothing even vaguely Masonic would have been anywhere near these Bibles,” Robert Miller, professor of biblical studies at The Catholic University of America, told the AP in an email. “Same thing for the ‘Illuminati,’ to the extent that such a thing existed: repeatedly condemned by the Popes and certainly coming nowhere into contact with Catholic Bibles.” Rev. Brent A. Strawn, a professor of Old Testament and law at Duke University, told the AP in an email that there’s “no conspiracy” behind the Bible. He explained that the Douay-Rheims Bible is a translation of the Vulgate, a Latin translation of the Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament. “Douay-Rheims is simply an English translation of the Latin Bible so popular in Catholic piety and worship,” he said.


No, Biden did not instruct ICE to release all detained immigrants

CLAIM: A new order from the Biden administration directed Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to release all detained immigrants immediately.

THE FACTS: The Biden administration did not order all immigrants to be released from ICE custody.

The false claim is based on an email issued by a local ICE officer in Houston to agents that was leaked to Fox News and taken out of context. The email begins “I am just the messenger...” and instructs agents in that office to “stop all removals.” One line reads, “Release them all, immediately. No sponsor available is not acceptable any longer.” The email signature shows the author of the email holds the rank of assistant officer in charge for the Houston ICE field office.

Social media users and conservative websites cited the leaked email to spread the false claim that the Biden administration’s various immigration reforms had included immediate, mass releases of detained immigrants. “Joe Biden Orders ICE Agents to Release All Illegal Aliens in Custody,” read the headline of one article that was widely shared on Facebook.

Biden’s Department of Homeland Security did issue a memo on Jan. 20 that established enforcement priorities and paused deportations of certain noncitizens who already had a final order of removal. But that directive, which was temporarily blocked by a federal judge in Texas on Tuesday, did not include an order to release all immigrants from detention.

A statement issued by ICE that was shared with the AP on Tuesday confirms the agency is not under orders to free everyone in its custody. “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) continues to make custody determinations on a case by case basis, in accordance with U.S. law and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policy,” reads the statement. “During the course of routine operations, individuals can be released from custody based on the facts and circumstances of their cases.”

Furthermore, a review of the email thread from the Houston ICE office revealed that the email in question was retracted a day later, only applied to a certain cohort of detainees and was issued in response to a federal court order — not a directive from Biden’s administration. The emails became available to the public as part of a lawsuit the state of Texas filed against the Biden administration over its deportation moratorium. The email thread, which redacts email addresses and names, shows that after the first email was sent late Thursday morning, it was reversed Friday afternoon by an email that read, “Retract this directive immediately.” That second email was signed “FOD,” which is likely a reference to the field office director, the highest ranking position in the Houston office.

Another email in the chain clarifies the initial email was not instructing agents to release all immigrants, but rather “High risk detainees” with health issues who had to be evaluated for release under an ongoing federal lawsuit. In that legal case, a federal judge in California had previously ordered ICE to individually review detainees and identify those who were at high risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19 and prioritize their release. “ICE does have the obligation to affirmatively review anyone in their custody with risk factors,” said Elizabeth Jordan, an attorney with Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center, which represents immigrant detainees in that lawsuit.

WHO did not say COVID-19 test led to case numbers being overstated

CLAIM: The World Health Organization admits that PCR tests to diagnose COVID-19 gave massive false positives, overinflating COVID-19 case numbers.

THE FACTS: A WHO press release is being misrepresented online to say it shows that polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for COVID-19 caused large scale false positives. Since the outset of the pandemic, some social media users have been falsely suggesting that false positive test results are the real reason behind the millions of reported COVID-19 cases.

The latest posts are misrepresenting a WHO information notice.

In widely shared posts on Facebook and Twitter, social media users claim the WHO admitted that PCR tests were causing false positives. Kelly Wroblewski, director of infectious disease at the Association of Public Health Laboratories, said that people are confusing infectiousness with what they think are false positives. The PCR test can determine when someone is at the beginning of the virus or at the tail end of it. “The PCR test doesn’t find something that is not there, the virus is there,” she said.

The PCR test is generally a more sensitive test compared to rapid antigen tests, which identify proteins from the virus. The WHO released an informational notice to lab technicians on Dec. 14 clarifying instructions about analyzing PCR tests for COVID-19. WHO then updated the news release and published it on Jan. 20. The January release spread online with claims it revealed a failure by the WHO. “Wait. So there were too many false positives because the PCR tests were set at too high a threshold?” one Facebook post said. “Man, I hadn’t heard that anywhere —- except about 5 million times from reputable doctors who were conveniently silenced by the media for the past 10 months.”

But the WHO made no such admission, nor did the health agency see a large scale number of false positives. The supposedly “massive” false positives being mentioned in the post were in fact much rarer. WHO told The Associated Press that it has received 10 reports of problems related to PCR tests for the detection of SARS-CoV-2. “The reports were for misdiagnosis, both false positive and false negative results,” according to WHO. “After thorough investigation, WHO confirmed that tests were not always being used appropriately and in accordance with the instructions provided by the manufacturer.”

The release emphasized the importance of knowing the details about the patient, the number of cycles of testing done when analyzing the specimen provided as well as the patient’s clinical history. PCR tests work by analyzing the viral load in cycles. Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, a professor of epidemiology and medicine at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, said the higher the viral load in a patient the easier it is for a PCR test to become positive. More cycles of the test are needed to detect infections with a lower viral load, such as at the start or end of having the virus.


Well-Known Member
The National Guard received no offer to stay at Trump Hotel in Washington

CLAIM: Donald Trump invited National Guard members to stay at the Trump Hotel in Washington so they didn’t have to sleep in a cold parking garage.

THE FACTS: A spokesperson with the National Guard Bureau told The Associated Press they received no offers to stay at Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C., the former president’s hotel.

After National Guard troops came to Washington to secure President Joe Biden’s the inauguration, they were temporarily assigned to take rest breaks in a parking garage.

Images of the guard members camping on the garage floor on Jan. 21 sparked widespread outrage as well as misinformation online. “President Trump said he is opening his entire Trump Hotel in Washington, DC to the National Guard troops whom President Biden and the Democrats literally kicked to the curb, having sent them to bed down in the unheated Capitol parking garage with no food and only one toilet for 1,000s of men. God bless President Trump!!!” read one popular Facebook post. “Most media won’t tell you that TRUMP HAS OFFERED THE NATIONAL GUARD STILL REMAINING IN D.C. to stay at his hotel, rather than sleep on the garage cold floor,” another Facebook post stated.

But guard officials say the troops already had hotel rooms and no such offer from Trump was ever communicated. “We have not received any offers at the National Guard Bureau,” Maj. Matt Murphy, media relations officer at the bureau, told the AP in an email.

A spokesperson at Trump International Hotel in Washington declined to comment when contacted by the AP. Captain Chelsi Johnson, a spokesperson for the D.C. National Guard, said all troops participating in the mission had hotel rooms to go back to at the end of their shifts. Some photos circulated online that appeared to show some troops inside the Trump Hotel, though the photos were first posted before claims that Trump had offered his hotel to them.

“For this mission we are not lodging any National Guard troops at the Trump Hotel,” Johnson said. “National Guard troops can rest in between their shifts at a location of their choosing.” In a briefing on Monday, Army Maj. Gen. William J. Walker said guard members photographed in the garage on Jan. 21 were taking rest breaks. “Nobody slept there. Nobody spent the night there,” Walker said. At the same briefing he said, “You stand 12 hours on your feet, you want to take a break.”

The AP reported the National Guard said it originally moved troops out of the Capitol Rotunda and other spaces to rest in garages at the behest of the Capitol Police. The National Guard and Capitol Police issued a joint statement on Jan. 22 saying they coordinated to establish “appropriate spaces” within congressional buildings for on-duty breaks, according to AP reporting.

Bill Gates did not say ‘3 billion people need to die’

CLAIM: Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates wants to eliminate at least 3 billion people in the world, starting in Africa, in a plot involving vaccines.

THE FACTS: A 2019 video falsely claiming Gates wants to depopulate the globe is circulating online anew this month as COVID-19 vaccines become more widely available in the United States and elsewhere.

Instagram and Twitter posts containing the video made the further unsubstantiated claim that Gates wanted to use mandatory vaccines as part of his plan to eliminate billions of people. The video shows naturopath Robert O. Young, who uses natural remedies in healing, speaking on a panel for the International Tribunal for Natural Justice, an independent, U.K.-based group that holds “hearings” and “trials” and whose members have promoted baseless conspiracy theories about 5G technology and the coronavirus.

Young, who has previously been convicted for practicing medicine without a license and was ordered to pay $105 million to a woman who said he advised her against traditional cancer treatment, claimed without evidence that Gates planned to kill billions of people, starting in Africa. “In the words of Bill Gates, at least 3 billion people need to die,” Young said. “So we’ll just start off in Africa, we’ll start doing our research there, and we’ll eliminate most of the Africans because they’re deplorable. They’re worthless. They’re not part of this world economy.”

A review of public statements by Gates found nothing matching these claims. Young’s statement appeared to misrepresent comments Gates made during a TED Talk in 2010, when he said vaccines and improved health care could help reduce the rate of global population growth and, as a result, lower carbon emissions. “The world today has 6.8 billion people,” Gates said during the talk. “That’s headed up to about 9 billion. Now, if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we lower that by perhaps 10 or 15%.” Gates was talking about reducing the rate of population growth, not the population, by 10 or 15%.

In past interviews, Gates has argued that improving vaccines and health care can paradoxically slow the rate of population growth in poor countries, because it lowers the child mortality rate. With more children making it to adulthood, Gates has said, parents may choose to have a smaller family size. “Amazingly, as children survive, parents feel like they’ll have enough kids to support them in their old age, so they choose to have less children,” Gates said in a 2012 interview. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the International Tribunal for Natural Justice did not respond to requests for comment.

Biden cancellation of Keystone XL pipeline was not a favor to Warren Buffet

CLAIM: Billionaire Warren Buffett donated $58 million to President Joe Biden’s campaign, so Biden canceled the Keystone XL pipeline as a favor to Buffett.

THE FACTS: Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, did not donate to Biden’s presidential campaign, nor did he endorse him.

Buffett previously has voiced public support for the Keystone XL pipeline. On Biden’s first day in office, he canceled the permit for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline saying it was not consistent with the administration’s “economic and climate imperatives.” The 1,700-mile pipeline was planned to carry roughly 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast.

A Facebook post that has been shared more than 60,000 times suggests Biden halted the pipeline not for environmental reasons, but as a favor to Buffett. But the post’s main thesis, that the billionaire investor was a major donor to Biden’s campaign, is not true. “Warren Buffet owns the railroad that is now transporting all that oil. Warren Buffet donated 58 million to Biden campaign. Warren Buffet would lose billions in transport fees if the pipeline is completed. See how politics works? It is not an environmental issue, it is a money issue…” the Facebook post reads.

In fact, there is no record Buffett gave any money to Biden’s 2020 presidential bid, and Buffett’s assistant, Debbie Bosanek, confirmed to The Associated Press that he did not.

Federal Election Commission records show that Buffett made no individual contributions in 2020. In 2019, he gave $248,500 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which supports Democratic House candidates, and $5,800 to Democratic Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly’s campaign. In 2018, he gave $33,900 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, $33,900 to the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, and $2,700 each to the campaigns of Democrats Donna Shalala and Rufus Gifford.

Bosanek told the AP that the 90-year-old billionaire did not make other donations through a political action committee in the 2020 campaign cycle. Nor did Buffett campaign in favor of the current president. “Mr. Buffett did not endorse Mr. Biden, but both he and his wife voted for Mr. Biden,” Bosanek told the AP in an email.

It is true that Buffett’s company, Berkshire Hathaway, owns BNSF Railway, a freight railroad network that transports crude oil. While analysts over the years have suggested that the Keystone XL pipeline would take business from BNSF, Buffett voiced his support for the project in a CNBC television appearance in 2014. “It’s not that big of a competitor,” Buffett said at the time. “I think probably the Keystone pipeline is a good idea for the country.” Bosanek told the AP that Buffett had not offered any opinions about the project more recently that he can remember, nor did he have a stance on how it would impact his business. “Mr. Buffett has never seen any report by BNSF projecting whether the Keystone Pipeline would increase or decrease the revenue of the railroad,” Bosanek wrote.


Well-Known Member
https://apnews.com/article/joe-biden-ap-fact-check-courts-media-social-media-b2429817de8fd9ab73ce10b6e8e6d352Screen Shot 2021-02-05 at 7.29.18 PM.png
A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. None of these are legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked them out. Here are the facts:


Post shows family reunification from 2020, not this week

CLAIM: Nine parents who were deported under the Trump administration after being separated from their children at the border were allowed to return to the United States on Wednesday.

THE FACTS: The family reunions referenced on social media did not happen this week — they occurred in 2020 due to a court order.

After President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Tuesday establishing a task force that will focus on reuniting families separated by border agents under the previous administration, a false rumor spread on social media that a group of parents had been given permission to return to America to reunify with their children. “Nine parents deported by the Trump administration landed back into the U.S. Wednesday to reunite with children they had not seen in a year and a half.

Some of the children were at the airport to greet them, including David Xol’s 9-year-old son Byron,” the tweet claimed. But David Xol, who is from Guatemala, and his son were among a small number of families who were reunited in January 2020. The reunifications followed a 2018 American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit challenging family separations, which resulted in U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw allowing a small number of deported parents to return to the U.S. Sabraw found government agents had unlawfully prevented those parents from pursuing asylum cases.

The erroneous post misrepresents an Associated Press photo of the father and son hugging at Los Angeles International Airport on Jan. 22, 2020, after Xol arrived on a flight. The facts are detailed in an AP report from the time. The author of the tweet issued a second post Thursday acknowledging the reunions happened in 2020, but by then the original tweet had been retweeted more than 37,000 times.

Many social media users shared the original post along with praise for the president, and it was even retweeted by the White House director of political strategy and outreach, Emmy Ruiz. After other social media users notified her the post shared old information, Ruiz wrote: “I’m sorry. Will undo RT. Thank you for bringing to my attention. The graver error though was separating these families to begin with.” About 5,500 children have been identified in court documents as having been separated during Trump’s presidency, including about 600 whose parents have yet to be found by a court-appointed committee.


Photo shows 2011 Wisconsin protests, not U.S. Capitol during Kavanaugh hearings

CLAIM: Photo shows Democratic protesters storming the U.S. Capitol during the confirmation of then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.

THE FACTS: The photo is being misrepresented. It was taken in February 2011 at the state Capitol rotunda in Madison, Wisconsin, during labor demonstrations against a proposal that would effectively strip union workers of collective bargaining rights.

Nearly a month after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, posts emerged on social media using the photo to falsely imply that similar riots happened during Senate confirmation hearings on Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. “Remember when democrat protesters stormed the US Capitol in 2018, took over the US Senate building, and tried to get into the US Supreme Court during the Kavanaugh confirmations? Democrat legislators and the MSM cheered it on. If it wasn’t for double standards liberals would have no standards at all…” said a post on the verified Facebook page for singer Ted Nugent, which featured the photo. Nugent did not respond to a request for comment from the AP.

There were demonstrations against Kavanaugh’s nomination following accusations of sexual assault by Christine Blasey Ford, which were denied by Kavanaugh. But those protests, while disruptive, were much smaller and resulted in far fewer arrests, mainly for unlawfully demonstrating in Senate office buildings. The February 2011 photo from Madison was taken as thousands of workersprotested for weeks against then-Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to eliminate collective bargaining for many state workers. The Center for Media and Democracy, a progressive watchdog group, posted the original photo and confirmed to the AP in an email that the photo is from the Wisconsin protests in 2011.


Ocasio-Cortez didn’t lie about location during Capitol riot

CLAIM: U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, falsely claimed she faced rioters in the main Capitol building during the Jan. 6 insurrection.

THE FACTS: Ocasio-Cortez never claimed she was in the main Capitol building, nor did she claim she was face-to-face with a mob of violent rioters.

In a Feb. 2 Instagram Live video where the congresswomen opened up about the Capitol attack and her past sexual assault, she explained that she was in her office in a neighboring building on the Capitol complex, where she experienced a frightening encounter with a Capitol Police officer who she said didn’t announce himself. Days later, viral social media posts falsely accused her of lying about the details.

“Sooo is Twitter going to fact-check AOC’s fake story about imaginary mobs in her hallway?” read one Facebook post viewed more than 66,000 times on Thursday. “Or do they only do that to conservatives…” Another Facebook post viewed more than 100,000 times read, “AOC wasn’t even in the Capitol Building during her ‘near-death’ experience. One big lie. #AlexandriaOcasioSmollett.” The hashtag #AlexandriaOcasioSmollett, which appeared in multiple social media posts this week and was trending nationwide on Twitter Wednesday night, appeared to liken the congresswoman to former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, who was accused of staging a racist, anti-gay attack against himself in 2019.

But in her video explaining her experience of the insurrection, Ocasio-Cortez made a point to clarify that she was in her congressional office in a different building nearby. “For you all to know, there’s the Capitol Hill complex,” she told her Instagram followers. “But members of Congress, except for, you know, the speaker and other very, very high ranking ones, don’t actually work in that building with the dome. There’s buildings like right next to the dome, and that’s where our actual offices are.”

Other social media posts falsely attributed a quote to her to undermine her account of an interaction she had with a Capitol police officer on Jan. 6. A Facebook post with more than 50,000 views on Wednesday features a picture of the congresswoman overlaid with the quote: “And then the Capitol police officer said ‘This is MAGA country!’”

But Ocasio-Cortez never made this claim.

In the Instagram video, Ocasio-Cortez said she was in her office in a building near the Capitol building when she heard repeated bangs on the door, like someone was trying to get in. Her legislative director told her to hide, and she went into the bathroom. She then heard a male voice yelling, “Where is she?” She came out after her legislative director told her to, and a Capitol police officer was in the office. She said the officer told them to go to another building, but didn’t say specifically where or escort them, leaving her feeling unsafe.

She said the officer did not loudly announce himself and seemed angry, leaving her uneasy. “It didn’t feel right, because he was looking at me with a tremendous amount of anger and hostility,” Ocasio-Cortez said in the video. She didn’t quote the officer saying anything else.



Well-Known Member
Myanmar does not use Dominion Voting Systems

CLAIM: Myanmar used the election technology firm Dominion Voting Systems for its recent elections.

THE FACTS: Dominion has never done business in Myanmar, according to a company spokesperson, and the country used paper ballots — not machines — to vote in its November 2020 election.

Social media posts making the false claim about Dominion followed a coup on Monday by Myanmar’s military. The military seized power after making unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in the country’s November elections. It detained the country’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party won by a landslide, along with other senior politicians.

Social media users falsely linked the situation to baseless claims of election fraud from the United States.

“Well, well, well: Soros-Dominion machines were used in Myanmar to steal the election for The Lady,” said a Facebook post on Tuesday. In fact, voters used only paper ballots to vote in Myanmar’s general elections, according to a 2020 report funded by the European Union. The 28-page report, which detailed the country’s election process, did not mention Dominion or any other electronic voting system.

An AP photographer who voted in the Myanmar election confirmed the voting process was entirely manual. AP video of voters casting their ballots and poll workers counting ballotsshows no machines were involved. “No machines in Myanmar, no business in Myanmar,” said Tony Fratto, a partner with the public relations firm Hamilton Place Strategies, who spoke to The Associated Press on behalf of Dominion.


Post makes false claim about COVID-19 vaccine risk

CLAIM: People may be more susceptible to serious COVID-19 illness after they have been vaccinated.

THE FACTS: An Instagram post with more than 4,000 likes falsely claims that people who receive the COVID-19 vaccine may experience more severe symptoms if they are exposed to the virus.

“Studies have warned COVID-19 vaccines may result in more serious disease when exposed to the virus by way of pathogenic priming and immune enhancement,” reads the post, which was shared by Joseph Mercola, a doctor who runs a natural health website.

But scientists told The Associated Press that such effects simply haven’t shown up in the data.

Research has shown that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been proven to be 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 illness. It is true that some vaccines can, on rare occasions, cause more serious illnesses later, but scientists say that effect – known as antibody-dependent enhancement – has not been seen with COVID-19 vaccines. Such enhancement happened with older shots and more recently with a dengue virus vaccine.

There is “abundant evidence” that immunization-enhanced disease “will not be a problem” with the COVID-19 shots, Dr. Paul Offit, director of a vaccine education center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, wrote in a report to the National Institutes of Health. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were tested on thousands of people, some of whom were later likely exposed to the virus. The effect wasn’t seen in the trials.

The AP asked to see the studies mentioned in Mercola’s claim, and his organization responded with links. All the studies were published before Pfizer and Moderna had released data from their late stage trials, and some of the studies specifically contradicted his claim.

Dr. Timothy Cardozo, an associate professor at NYU Langone Health, was the author of one of the studies Mercola cited. The Pfizer and Moderna data that came out after he published his study greatly reduced his concern about antibody dependent enhancement, he told the AP in a statement. He also noted that his paper made no statement on whether COVID-19 vaccines should be taken or avoided.

Mercola did not respond to a request for a response. If Mercola’s post were accurate, vaccinated people would have had more infections than the unvaccinated, said Dr. Matthew Woodruff, an immunologist at Emory University. That hasn’t been the case. “We are now six months out of vaccinating those people, with continued exposure, and no emerging evidence of enhanced disease,” Woodruff said.


H&M not selling children’s sweatshirt with ‘Klan’ message

CLAIM: Photo shows that the global clothing retailer H&M is selling a children’s sweatshirt with printed text that reads “Koolest Kid in the Klan.”

THE FACT: The photo was altered. It did not appear on H&M’s website.

The manipulated image shows a blond child model in a white hooded sweatshirt that reads “Koolest Kid in the Klan,” with the K’s accentuated in bold red font. The image is made to look like a screenshot from H&M’s website, the layout showing various views and color selections for the sweatshirt, along with a label pricing it at $24.99.

However, neither the picture nor the sweatshirt is real. “This is a fake photo,” the company told the Associated Press in an email. “We were upset and sad to see this as it goes against everything we stand for. To us, inclusion and diversity is key to the success of a global company and during the past year we have put extra focus on this.”

A reverse-image search reveals the fake photo has circulated as a meme online since at least 2018. That year, H&M was forced to apologize after a real image on its website showing a Black child modeling a “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” sweatshirt was widely criticized as racist. The image was removed from all H&M channels and the company apologized. H&M Group has “increased the priority of diversity and inclusion in 2020 and for the coming years,” according to an update published on its website on Thursday.