Fake news! A look at what didn’t happen this week
A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue headlines of the week. None of these stories is legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked these out; here are the real facts:
■Not Real: The crisis actors of Florida Parkland school shooting
■The Facts: Suspicion that students speaking to the media about the Florida school shooting that killed 17 were “crisis actors” who had not really been there sparked hundreds of false claims online. Much attention was focused on David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez, who spoke repeatedly on national television about the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The county superintendent, Robert Runcie, said Hogg and Gonzalez are “absolutely students” at the school. Several sites targeted Hogg after finding a YouTube video he posted in 2017 about a beach argument he witnessed while on vacation in California, and suggested he wasn’t from Florida and had been seen on video elsewhere rehearsing his remarks.
■Not Real: The U.S District Attorney has announced that he will be pursuing charges of treason against the former president Barack Obama
■The Facts: No treason prosecution is underway against the former president “and any liberals or Democrats” working to undermine President Donald Trump, despite the claims of a piece on a site called conservativefighters. The site said that Dana Boente will pursue the charges against Obama, identifying him as “the U.S. District Attorney.” He is now the general counsel to the FBI and never made any claims of a treason investigation.
■Not Real: Florida shooting: No birth records for any of the victims
■The Facts: A viral online video claimed victims in the Florida shooting are fictitious because their birth records don’t appear on a genealogy web site, but Ancestry says it has no birth records at all from the state. Broward County Sheriff’s officials released the names of the students and teachers shot to death on Feb. 14 at the Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida, and police reports document officers seeing “multiple dead” people at the scene. The video posted on the website PewTube appears to show 13 Ancestry.com searches for birth records of victims with no results. Florida officials say state birth records are confidential, and an Ancestry spokesman says Florida does not provide those records to the company for its database.
■Not Real: Cuba claims Justin Trudeau is Fidel Castro’s son
■The Facts: Cuba never claimed that Canada’s prime minister was the child of the Cuban leader. And the public visit by then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and his wife, Margaret, to Cuba, happened more than four years after Justin Trudeau was born. The false report has circulated for years. It resurfaced after the Feb. 1 suicide of Castro’s eldest son, Fidelito, and cited a suicide note referring to Trudeau as his half brother. Cuban media were unusually open about the death, but no state or independent media reported the existence of a suicide note.
■Not Real: Dunkin’ Donuts is providing a free box of Doughnuts! To Celebrate 67th Anniversary!
■The Facts: Clickable coupon aside, no free pastries are awaiting Dunkin’ Donuts customers this week. It’s one of many fake giveaways that go viral with offers of free food from prominent national brands like Pizza Hut and Costco. Clicking on the coupon sends users to a three-question survey about the chain and then asks for more personal information. Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc. spokeswoman Michelle King says the online offer is not coming from the chain. And it’s not their 67th anniversary; this year will be the chain’s 68th year in business.
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