Fake news: A look at what didn’t happen this week
A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. None of these is legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked these out. Here are the real facts:
Claim: Photo shows presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders shaking hands with a young man and pointing to his T-shirt, which says: “Listen here, Bud, America deserved 9/11.”
The Facts: The photo has been manipulated. The T-shirt worn by a Sanders supporter at a campaign event has no writing on it. It has a picture of labor activist Eugene V. Debs, who ran as a Socialist Party candidate for president five times between 1900 and 1920. Iowa State University student Ashton Ayers was shaking hands with the Vermont senator at a May 4 event in Ames, Iowa, when he was photographed by Georgia Parke, a strategist for Sanders’ campaign. Beyond the photo, Ayers can be seen wearing the T-shirt with Debs’ photo in a video on Sanders’ YouTube site. The photo has been a popular target for manipulation, with this recent image being shared widely across social media platforms, including Discord, Reddit and Facebook. Ayers told The Associated Press that Sanders recognized Debs on his shirt immediately and pointed at it. “He was surprised a young man knew who Debs was,” Ayers said.
Claim: Packaging inserts for the diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccines list autism as a possible side effect on the Food and Drug Administration’s website.
The Facts: Autism is not listed as a reaction on packaging for any of the diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccines – often referred to as DTaP– currently used in the U.S., according to documents on the FDA’s website. “There’s no credible evidence linking vaccination to autism or other developmental disorders,” the FDA said in a statement emailed to the AP. “This question of a purported link between vaccines and autism has been exhaustively studied over many years, in dozens of investigations and through some of the largest scientific studies ever undertaken.” Posts circulating on Facebook that make the claim show a label that came with Sanofi Pasteur’s Tripedia DTaP in 2005. It included autism on a long list of “adverse events” because some consumers had sent in that claim without scientific evidence. Since then, the FDA has changed its labeling rules.
Claim: Puerto Rico has received $91 billion from Congress for hurricane disaster relief, more than any state in the U.S.
The Facts: Congress has only approved $41 billion in aid for recovery efforts in the U.S. territory after Hurricane Maria struck in 2017. About $11 billion of that aid has been dispersed. Social media posts picked up the inaccurate claim that President Donald Trump has made repeatedly. Trump’s estimate of $91 billion includes $50 billion in expected future disaster disbursements that could span decades, according to the White House. That expenditure has not been approved by Congress and is based on Puerto Rico’s eligibility for emergency disaster aid in future years, according to an AP Fact Check published May 6. Even if the U.S. had spent $91 billion on hurricane recovery aid to Puerto Rico, as Trump claimed, it would not be the most aid given out in U.S. history. The U.S. government spent $120 billion after Hurricane Katrina, with most of the money going to Louisiana, the AP has reported.
Claim: Texas Sen. Bryan Hughes’ proposed election reform bill will make it illegal to transport groups of people in need to the polls.
The Facts: A proposed Texas Senate bill does not prohibit drivers from transporting groups of “elderly, disabled or poor” to the polls to vote. False claims, which have been shared thousands of times on Twitter and Facebook, distort a provision about Election Day transportation in state Senate Bill 9. The posts single out a section of the bill that would require anyone driving three or more non-relatives to vote to fill out a form, but the rule would apply only in a special circumstance: “It’s only if you are driving three or more people who are physically disabled who want to vote curbside from the polls, allowing them to vote from their car,” Sam Taylor, a spokesman for the Texas secretary of state’s office, told the AP. In those cases, drivers would need to fill out a form providing their name and address, as well as their relationship to the voters and the reason for the transportation to polling places. The GOP-backed bill, which passed the state Senate in April, also would stiffen penalties for election-related crimes, including making it a felony to put false information on a voter registration form. Civil right groups have rebuked it, saying it would make voting in the state difficult and bureaucratic.