Fake news: A look at what didn’t happen this week

Beatrice Dupuy and Amanda Seitz
Associated Press
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to local residents at Clinton Community College, Wednesday, June 12, 2019, in Clinton, Iowa.

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 them out. Here are the real facts:

Claim: Video shows Joe Biden making a “shocking admission.” Biden’s speech also appears to be impaired in the video.

The Facts: Democratic presidential candidate Biden did not make any sort of admission. Rather, in the video, he was referencing comments made about him by President Donald Trump. The source footage was slowed down and two clips from it were cut and spliced together to produce this altered video. A social media user who uses the handle @CarpeDonktum posted the altered video to Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Reddit on Wednesday and Thursday, calling it a “shocking admission” and saying it forced him to question Biden’s mental health. @CarpeDonktum, whose Twitter bio says he creates “doctored” videos in support of Trump, told The Associated Press that he had slowed down the video and cut the two clips together. On Reddit, he labeled the video as “doctored” because he said users on Reddit may not be familiar with his parody style videos. “All I do is make parody and funny videos,” he said. “No ill intent behind it.” The manipulated footage taken from ABC News video of Biden at Iowa Wesleyan University was uploaded following President Donald Trump’s remarks this week that Biden was getting slow and referring to him as “Sleepy Joe.”

In this Friday, Jan. 12, 2018 file photo, President Donald Trump shakes hands with White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson.

Claim: President Donald Trump has to release results of his an annual physical exam to the public, therefore Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi should be required to do the same.

The Facts: No elected official, including the U.S. president, is required to undergo or disclose results of a yearly health checkup. The erroneous claim, initially made in a tweet this week that spread to Facebook, said: “President Trump has to have an annual physical exam with the results released to the public. I think Nancy Pelosi, who is third in command should be required to have an annual physical and the results released to the public as well.” The claim was made following a string of social media posts in recent weeks that have raised questions about Pelosi’s health. However, there is “absolutely no requirement” for presidents to have annual health inspections or release medical records to the public, said Jacob Appel, a physician and professor at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York who has researched the medical histories of U.S. presidents. Trump underwent an annual medical checkup in February and his doctor declared him “in very good health” but did not publicly release additional details, such as Trump’s height, weight or blood pressure.

In this July 25, 2011 file photo, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott talks with the media as he leaves the Tom Green County Courthouse, in San Angelo, Texas.

Claim: Congolese immigrants arriving at U.S.-Mexico border have caused an Ebola outbreak in Texas.

The Facts: The Texas Department of State Health Services is not monitoring any suspected or confirmed cases of Ebola, spokeswoman Lara Anton confirmed to The Associated Press this week. Inaccurate statements about Ebola cases in Texas have been made in Facebook posts, online articles, tweets and YouTube videos since April. A “dramatic” increase in the number of asylum-seeking African migrants in western Texas’ Del Rio Border Sector – including some from Congo, where a deadly Ebola outbreak has ravaged the eastern part of the country – revived false Ebola claims on Twitter and Facebook this week. On Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott took to Twitter to quell rumors about an Ebola outbreak, stating that his office is working on “health security” and the state’s health department is “monitoring immigration sites to protect against infectious disease.” The governor also linked to an April article that debunked claims of Ebola cases in Laredo, Texas. Border Patrol reviews all travelers entering the United States for signs of illness and notifies the Center for Disease Control of risks when necessary. The CDC is not aware of any Ebola cases in the U.S., spokesman Benjamin Haynes said. Border Patrol officials estimate more than 500 migrants from Africa have come through the Del Rio sector since May 30. Ebola has killed more than 1,400 people in Congo since August.

In this Wednesday, April 22, 2009 file photo, papayas sit on a cart at a public market in Old Havana, Cuba.

Claim: Papaya and ginger are natural birth control options, among other foods and herbs.

THE FACTS: Women’s health experts say there is no legitimacy to those claims. On June 5, a Twitter user tweeted a pair of graphics listing what was described as “natural birth control options.” On the list were papaya, neem, asafoetida, figs, ginger, smartweed, wild yam, pennyroyal, black cohosh and angelica. “None of the 10 things that are on this list are actually effective methods of birth control,” said Robin Watkins, a women’s health nurse practitioner and director of health care at Power to Decide, a campaign to prevent unplanned pregnancy. Dr. Nathaniel G. DeNicola, a board-certified OB-GYN and assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at The George Washington University, said he was in disbelief that the post sharing the false claim had received so much attention. He added that some of the ingredients, like pennyroyal, are used as a pesticide. “It almost looks like someone went through an article on ancient forms of medicine,” he said. “If you expand your reach to everything that has ever been used, you end up with things like leeching and bloodletting.” The graphics listing the “natural remedies” have been included in blogs about home remedies for birth control. “Birth control and contraception are loaded topics,” he said. “There is a lot of misinformation from groups that have agendas that try to advance that agenda through almost like seedy ignorance.” Watkins noted that those seeking non-hormonal birth control methods do have options, such as condoms.

In this Monday, June 10, 2019 file photo, Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant walks off the court after sustaining an injury.

Claim: Video shows fans in a Toronto bar cheering as Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant’s June 10 injury is shown on a large TV screen.

The Facts: This claim is false. The video was originally from a different event in 2016, and was digitally altered to change the image that appeared on the big screen. The original video shows fans at Ashton Gate Stadium in Bristol, England, cheering over a soccer match during the Euro 2016 games. The video was manipulated to show Durant’s injury on the screen, and to make it seem as though Toronto Raptors fans watching the game in a bar were celebrating Durant’s injury of his right Achilles. Durant was hurt on the Scotiabank Arena court during Game 5 of the NBA finals on June 10. The video of the fans in Bristol has often been manipulated and shared online since it was first uploaded in 2016. Social media users have previously altered the screen that appears in the video to show a scene from HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” Toronto Raptors fans did cheer in Scotiabank Arena when Durant limped off the court, as reported Monday by The Associated Press. But the celebration depicted in the altered video was not related to Durant’s injury. The altered video received thousands of shares online after it was posted by social media users and sports sites following the Golden State Warriors 106-105 win over the Raptors.