A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Hoax Letter Stirs Confusion About Missouri Schools

Hoax Letter Stirs Confusion About Missouri Schools

A false claim that students in Missouri will have to repeat the school year was pushed online through a viral letter with a state logo as part of an April Fool’s hoax. State officials have publicly debunked the claim.

Baseless Attack on News Media Over Photo of Coffins

Baseless Attack on News Media Over Photo of Coffins

A viral post on Facebook claims without substantiation that the “media” is running a photo of coffins from a 2017 movie with news stories about the novel coronavirus pandemic in Italy. The picture is actually from 2013; it did appear in the 2017 movie, too, but there’s no evidence it’s being used by credible news organizations now.

Flawed Comparison on Coronavirus, H1N1 Emergency Timelines

Flawed Comparison on Coronavirus, H1N1 Emergency Timelines

Facebook posts falsely claim that it “took [President Barack] Obama ‘millions infected and over 1,000 deaths’ to declare the H1N1 flu a health emergency,” but President Donald Trump “declared a health emergency” before the first coronavirus death. In reality, both administrations declared public health emergencies before the first reported deaths.

False Claim of Congressional Pay Raises in Stimulus Bill

False Claim of Congressional Pay Raises in Stimulus Bill

Facebook posts falsely claim that House Democrats included $25 million to boost their own salaries in their proposal for the coronavirus-related stimulus package. That funding is not for legislators’ pay increases; it’s also in the bill being advanced by the Republican-controlled Senate.

Posts Distort Facts on Coronavirus Air Transmission, Masks

Posts Distort Facts on Coronavirus Air Transmission, Masks

Facebook posts make the unsubstantiated suggestion that the novel coronavirus is infectious in the air for “8 hrs,” and falsely claim that “everyone is required to wear mask everywhere!” There is also no requirement for healthy people to wear masks; experts say health care workers need them most.

False Claim That Pelosi Withheld Coronavirus Funds Over Abortion

False Claim That Pelosi Withheld Coronavirus Funds Over Abortion

A viral Facebook post falsely claims that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “wouldn’t release 8.5 billion for Coronavirus without abortion funding.” A House bill providing $8.3 billion in relief was already signed into law. The “abortion funding” claim is a distortion of a separate debate over a different bill.

Trump Didn’t Tweet Threat to Withhold Relief from Critics

Trump Didn’t Tweet Threat to Withhold Relief from Critics

Facebook and Instagram users are sharing a fake tweet attributed to President Donald Trump that suggests the president’s critics won’t get direct government payments to ease the financial burden of the coronavirus pandemic.

Gargling Water With Salt Won’t ‘Eliminate’ Coronavirus

Gargling Water With Salt Won’t ‘Eliminate’ Coronavirus

A viral image circulating online is falsely advising social media users that gargling water with salt or vinegar “eliminates” the coronavirus. There is currently “no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus,” according to the World Health Organization.

Infographic on Facebook Distorts Comparative Facts on Viruses

Infographic on Facebook Distorts Comparative Facts on Viruses

A misleading chart being spread on Facebook, erroneously dubbing the new coronavirus the “least deadly virus,” contains outdated information about the coronavirus and erroneous information about the death rate of the 2009 pandemic of H1N1.