A publication known for spreading “satire” content that confuses social media users attributed a bogus quote about soldiers’ pay to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
A headline claiming that Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that soldiers are paid “too much” has been shared online tens of thousands of times, prompting condemnation and controversy — even though the story is completely made up.
The concocted story is just the latest example of fabricated content from America’s Last Line of Defense, a self-described satirical publication, deceiving social media users.
The story was posted on tatersgonnatate.com under the headline “Ocasio-Cortez On the Budget : ‘We Pay Soldiers Too Much.'”
Despite indicators on the website — including “satire rated” watermarks and an “About Us” page that states that “[e]verything on this website is fiction” — the link to the story earned more than 709,000 interactions on Facebook, including more than 80,000 shares on Facebook, according to CrowdTangle data.
Many users evidently believed the fabrication to be true. In some conservative circles on Facebook, the story was met by remarks calling Ocasio-Cortez an “imbecile” and questioning her congressional salary.
In one Louisiana town, two police officers were fired after one posted the original link with a suggestion that the freshman congresswoman should be shot; the other officer liked it.
Gretna Police Chief Arthur Lawson announced the terminations at a July 22 press conference.
“It’s sad, it’s a sad day … you know you see it in social media — where people don’t read what they’re reading, you know — they don’t comprehend what they’re reading,” Lawson said, “and take a caption and react and read a headline and react to it, and it’s a shame. But it’s the world we’re living in now.”
We have long cautioned readers to consider the source of the information and to read beyond the headline. Satirical stories often include tell-tale signs in the text that the authors are trying to make a joke. And with supposed quotes from Ocasio-Cortez, we’d urge extra caution: There have been many made-up quotes attributed to her floating around social media.
For more tips on how to not fall for misinformation, see our story “How to Spot Fake News.”
“About Us.” Tatersgonnatate.com. Accessed 22 Jul 2019.
“Gretna Police Chief fires 2 officers after post suggesting Rep. Ocasio-Cortez should be shot.” WWL-TV. YouTube. 22 Jul 2019.
“Ocasio-Cortez On the Budget : ‘We Pay Soldiers Too Much.’” Tatersgonnatate.com. 16 Jul 2019.
“Two Gretna officers fired: One posted Ocasio-Cortez ‘needs a round,’ 2nd hit ‘like’ button.” NOLA.com. 22 Jul 2019.