Fake News Friday: A look at what didn’t happen this week

In this Oct. 1, 2013, file photo, a National Park Service employee posts a sign on a barricade closing access to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. On Friday, Jan. 25, 2018, The Associated Press has found that stories circulating on the internet that Republicans controlled both chambers of Congress when the government shutdown in 2013, are untrue. | Associated Press photo by Carolyn Kaster, St. George News

(AP) — The following is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online and work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

This brief roundup offers some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. None of these is legit, even though they were shared widely on social media.


NOT REAL: Image suggests Republicans are responsible for government shutdowns in 1995, 1996, 2013 and 2018, with a caption stating, “Does anyone see a pattern?”

THE FACTS: Republicans controlled Congress in 1995, 1996 and during the three most recent government shutdowns, all of which began in 2018, but they did not control both chambers of Congress when the government shutdown in 2013, as the image circulating online falsely suggests.

The inaccurate image also does not tell the whole story. It leaves out past government shutdowns when Democrats controlled chambers of Congress. The government has shut down 13 times since the early 1980s when former Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti issued a legal opinion stating the government should shut down in part or whole when Congress fails to pass a spending bill.

Democrats held a majority in one or both chambers of Congress during shutdowns in 2013, 1990, 1987, 1984 and 1981. Party control does not always determine who is at fault for a shutdown either, given that 60 votes are required in the Senate to approve a bill funding the government, said Roy Meyers, a political science professor at University of Maryland, Baltimore County.


NOT REAL: “Kamala Harris is NOT a natural born citizen. She is NOT eligible for the Presidency”

THE FACTS: The day after U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris entered the Democratic presidential race, false claims circulated on social media saying she was not eligible to hold the office because she is not a natural born citizen.

In this Nov. 30, 2010, file photo, California Attorney General Kamala Harris gives her first news conference in Los Angeles. On Jan. 25, 2018, The Associated Press has found that stories circulating on the internet that Harris is not a natural born citizen, are untrue. She was born Oct. 20, 1964, in Oakland, Calif. | Associated Press photo bu Damian Dovarganes, St. George News

The posts falsely claimed that Harris, 54, did not fulfill that requirement because “neither parent was a legal resident for five years prior to her birth, a requirement for naturalization.” Harris was born Oct. 20, 1964, in Oakland, California. Her father, an economist from Jamaica, and her mother, a cancer researcher from India, met at the University of California, Berkeley, while graduate students.

She was born in the U.S. and is regarded a natural born citizen under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, said Jack Maskell, retired legislative attorney for the Congressional Research Service.

“I can’t believe people are making this idiotic comment,” Laurence Tribe, Harvard University professor of constitutional law, told The Associated Press. “She is a natural born citizen and there is no question about her eligibility to run.”


NOT REAL: Piles of syringes photographed on a blue tarp are said to have been “found lying around the streets of San Fran.”

THE FACTS: The photograph, which is circulating on social media with the caption “This is the promise of socialist policies,” was actually taken October 2017 during a cleanup at a homeless camp south of Everett, Washington.

While it is unclear who took the photo used online, Caleb Hutton, a journalist at The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington, took a photo that is almost identical. Hutton told the AP in an email that the image is from a cleanup in Everett organized by the Hand Up Project, a volunteer group that aims to get people off the streets and into sober housing.


Find all AP Fact Checks here.

Written by The Associated Press.

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Twitter: @STGnews

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3 Comments

  • commonsense January 26, 2019 at 11:56 am

    I wonder if Kamala Harris’s parents ever became citizens? America deserves a president raised by Americans. Jamaica and India are very foreign cultures with values far different than than ours.
    We tried this with Obama and it was a mess.

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