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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 the Biden administration secretly fly over 300,000 migrants to the U.S.?
As of January, the Department of Homeland Security had admitted about 357,000 Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans it vetted and authorized to fly to the U.S. through a humanitarian parole program. The travelers pay for the flights.
March 14, 2024

Post Paints Misleading Picture of Biden’s Financial Support for Israel and Palestinians
An Instagram post misleadingly claims President Joe Biden is “funding every angle of this conflict” between Hamas and Israel. The U.S. does supply military aid to Israel, but it has supplied only humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people in Gaza, not military aid to Hamas.
Oct. 11, 2023

Have 84 members of Congress been arrested for drunk driving in the last year? Have seven been arrested for fraud?
We judge these statistics to be not credible. They originated nearly a decade ago with a Web site that still refuses to provide any proof or documentation, or even to name those accused.
April 22, 2009

IRS Will Target ‘High-Income’ Tax Evaders with New Funding, Contrary to Social Media Posts
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.
Aug. 18, 2022

Biden Initiative Funds Drug Overdose Prevention, Not ‘Crack Pipes’
The Department of Health and Human Services launched a $30 million grant program in December to help “address the nation’s substance use and overdose epidemic” by reducing the dangers related to drug use. The program doesn’t provide funding for crack pipes, contrary to partisan claims fueled by a flawed assumption.
Feb. 17, 2022

Did Dr. Anthony Fauci fund experiments on beagles?
Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which has provided grants for medical studies using the dogs as test subjects. But the NIAID denied funding one particular project in which sedated beagles had their heads placed in mesh cages so sand flies could bite them.
Nov. 3, 2021

Posts Spread Bogus Harris Quote Fabricated on Satirical Site
Posts circulating on social media falsely claim that Vice President Kamala Harris supports deep cuts to veterans’ programs, telling them to “get a job.” It’s a fabricated quotation that originated on a satirical website.
March 8, 2021

Do the COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility?
There’s no evidence that approved vaccines cause fertility loss. Although clinical trials did not study the issue, loss of fertility has not been reported among thousands of trial participants nor confirmed as an adverse event among millions who have been vaccinated.
Feb. 26, 2021

Bogus Antifa Claims Follow Capitol Riot
Viral social media posts and a Republican House member have amplified claims wrongly identifying some right-wing figures at the U.S. Capitol riot as part of “antifa.” The claims feed into an unfounded conspiracy theory that anti-fascist activists in disguise orchestrated the event.
Jan. 7, 2021

CDC Did Not ‘Admit Only 6%’ of Recorded Deaths from COVID-19
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hasn’t drastically reduced the number of deaths attributable to COVID-19, but posts making that bogus claim have been circulating widely — with the help of President Donald Trump, who retweeted one such claim.
Sept. 1, 2020

Kamala Harris Is Eligible to Serve as President
Kamala Harris, former Vice President Joe Biden’s running mate, is eligible to serve as U.S. president, contrary to the false claims of viral posts on Facebook. Her mother is from India and her father from Jamaica — but Harris was born in Oakland, California.
Aug. 11, 2020

The Falsehoods of the ‘Plandemic’ Video
The first installment of a documentary called “Plandemic” stormed through social media this week. But the viral video weaves a grand conspiracy theory by using a host of false and misleading claims about the novel coronavirus pandemic and its origins, vaccines, treatments for COVID-19, and more.
May 8, 2020

CDC Hasn’t ‘Reduced’ COVID-19 Death Toll
Claims on social media have been spreading the falsehood that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention significantly lowered the COVID-19 death toll. There has been no such reduction. These claims confuse two different measures of the number of deaths.
May 6, 2020

Does ibuprofen make COVID-19 worse?
There is no evidence that ibuprofen or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can make COVID-19 cases more severe. You should consult your doctor before changing medications.
March 30, 2020

Viral Social Media Posts Offer False Coronavirus Tips
Posts are circulating false and misleading tips on social media — in some cases wrongly attributed to Stanford University — about how people can monitor and avoid the coronavirus.
March 12, 2020

Does the U.S. provide medical insurance and voting rights to immigrants in the country illegally?
No. A viral meme misrepresents what such immigrants are entitled to in the U.S.
Nov. 9, 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

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

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

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.’ “