A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Don’t get spun by internet rumors.

Just because you read it on Facebook or somebody’s blog or in an email from a friend or relative doesn’t mean it’s true. It’s probably not, as we advised in our special report “That Chain E-mail Your Friend Sent to You Is (Likely) Bogus. Seriously,” on March 18, 2008. More recently, we addressed the problem of bogus “stories” from fake news sites: “How to Spot Fake News,” on Nov. 18, 2016.

On this page, we feature a list of the false or misleading viral rumors we’re asked about most often, and a brief summary of the facts. But click on the links to read the full articles. There is a lot more detail in each answer. If you’re looking for articles about other viral claims, please use our search function.

 

Did John McCain “hide the fact that he ‘accidentally’ killed 134 American sailors”?
No. He wasn’t responsible for the fatal 1967 accident aboard the USS Forrestal.
Aug. 28, 2018

Did President Trump donate his $400,000 salary to military cemeteries?
No. A year-old viral email makes that claim. But the president does indeed donate his salary to different government initiatives each quarter.
Aug. 7, 2018

Is Fox picking up the ‘Roseanne’ TV series?
No. The story making that claim was intended as satire.
June 1, 2018

Was David Hogg at home during the February school shooting in Florida?
No. Hogg recorded videos from inside the school during the shooting and a teacher confirmed that he was there at the time.
April 3, 2018

Did President Donald Trump sign an order allowing veterans to get full medical bills paid at hospitals outside the VA?
No, but Trump has continued a program that allows some veterans to seek outside care.
March 13, 2018

Did FactCheck.org expose Snopes.com as an “extremely liberal propaganda site”?
No. That false claim was made in a meme circulating online.
March 6, 2018

Are the students who survived the Florida school shooting really “crisis actors”?
No. Conspiracy theories have been spreading online to undercut students advocating stricter gun control.
Feb. 22, 2018

Is the Florida school shooter a registered Democrat?
No. Nikolas Cruz isn’t even registered to vote.
Feb. 20, 2018

Has the Food and Drug Administration announced that vaccines cause autism?
No. FDA statements are grounded in scientific evidence. There is no evidence that vaccination is linked to autism.
Nov. 22, 2017

Is Ruth Bader Ginsburg resigning from the Supreme Court?
No. That claim was made in a fake news article based on a satirical story that said Ginsburg would resign if Donald Trump was elected president.
Jan. 18, 2017

Did Donald Trump tell People magazine in 1998 that if he ever ran for president, he’d do it as a Republican because “they’re the dumbest group of voters in the country” and that he “could lie and they’d still eat it up”?
No, that’s a bogus meme.
Nov. 25, 2015

Can members of Congress retire and receive their full pay after serving one term?
No. Only senators are eligible for a pension after one term, but it won’t be their full salary.
Jan. 5, 2015

Is it true that members of Congress, their staffers and their family members do not have to pay back their student loans?
Not true. Some congressional employees are eligible to have up to $60,000 of student loans repaid after several years — just like other federal workers. But that’s not the case for members of Congress or their families.
Jan. 6, 2011

Is there a connection between FactCheck.org and Barack Obama or Bill Ayers?
None, aside from benefiting at different times from the charity of the late publisher Walter Annenberg. We are a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania and get funding from the Annenberg Foundation, created by Walter Annenberg in 1989. Ayers was one of three Chicago educators who applied for a grant from the Annenberg Foundation in 1995, which was one of 5,200 grants the foundation made during its first 15 years. That $49 million grant, plus additional funds raised locally, funded the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, which sought to improve Chicago public schools. Obama was selected by Chicago officials (not Ayers) to chair the board set up to administer Annenberg Challenge funds, and he headed it until 1999. FactCheck.org came into being in late 2003. For other details see our Oct. 10, 2008, article about Obama and Ayers, which includes a sidebar: “FactCheck.org and the ‘Annenberg Challenge.’ “