Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro criticized the Biden administration’s decision to forgive some student loan debt. Liberal social media accounts then falsely claimed Shapiro had received a loan of about $20,000 that had been forgiven as part of the federal Paycheck Protection Program. Two other people with the same name had received PPP loans.
As the virus that causes COVID-19 has evolved, the vaccines have become less effective in preventing symptomatic infection while remaining highly effective in preventing severe disease and death. This shift has been misrepresented by anti-vaccine influencers who falsely claim that it means the vaccines don’t work and have been ineffective all along.
After Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes funding to increase staff at the IRS, social media posts falsely claimed members of Congress “voted to exempt themselves from IRS auditing of their personal finances.” An IRS spokesperson told us “there is no such special exemption,” and we found no such vote had been taken.
In a 2012 documentary, Magic Johnson discussed his HIV diagnosis and how it has affected his career. Social media posts are sharing an image from the documentary to falsely claim it shows Johnson donating blood for people with COVID-19. Johnson hasn’t donated HIV-infected blood for any medical reason.
The IRS Criminal Investigation division’s “Adrian Project” educates the public about the IRS through community outreach sessions with high school and college students. Posts on social media are sharing a video from one of the sessions to falsely claim it shows agents in training. The images were posted by a New Jersey university in 2017 and earlier this year.
The Inflation Reduction Act includes $79 billion for the IRS. Social media posts misleadingly claim the IRS will now hire “87,000 new agents” to investigate average citizens. But most new hires will provide customer services, and enforcement efforts will be aimed at “high-income and corporate tax evaders,” a Treasury Department spokesperson said.
Dozens of former President Donald Trump’s supporters gathered outside his Florida home to protest a recent FBI search of the building. The activity triggered a satirical tweet falsely attributed to Trump’s eldest son, purportedly telling supporters to disperse, and saying, “We have many important people coming through the club and need to keep it clean.”
Congress has passed a bill that would fund incentives to purchase electric vehicles. But a false claim is circulating on social media that purports to show an “electric car cemetery” in France. The photo actually shows a car-sharing company’s storage lot in China. The cars were to be replaced by updated electric vehicles.
China held live-fire military drills around Taiwan as a response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island on Aug. 2. But a video posted on social media made unfounded claims that China had attacked a Taiwanese armory. An expert told us that the claim was false and a majority of the video’s footage did not appear to be from the week of Pelosi’s visit.
FBI agents searched the home of former President Donald Trump in Florida on Aug. 8 looking for presidential records and classified materials that were improperly removed from the White House. Social media posts claiming the FBI search was politically motivated have been swirling online, despite there being no evidence that President Joe Biden “had his department of justice’s FBI raid” Trump’s home, as one viral post claimed.