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29 Hoaxes We Debunked In 2018

This was the year of Monster ham, the Gorilla Channel, and a whole lot of anti-immigrant hoaxes.

Posted on December 28, 2018, at 12:18 p.m. ET

Breaking News Hoaxes

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1. A Belgian political party circulated a bad deepfake of Donald Trump.

Trump heeft een boodschap voor alle Belgen... #Klimaatpetitie

The party published the video to Twitter and Facebook, where it was viewed over 90,000 times on the latter. In the video, which is in English but has Dutch subtitles, the fake Trump says, “As you know, I had the balls to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, and so should you.” Here’s how to spot a deepfake in the wild.

2. A doctored video of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was spread on Facebook by conservative news outlet CRTV.

Facebook: video.php

Even though many realized the video was fake, it spread across social media and got over 4 million views on Facebook.

3. People used old photos to make false, racist claims of assault at Black Panther screenings.

Trolls on Twitter were trying to stroke outrage with the false claims, and some received significant engagement.
Twitter

Trolls on Twitter were trying to stroke outrage with the false claims, and some received significant engagement.

4. President Trump falsely tweeted that Google didn’t promote his State of the Union address.

In a statement, Google said it did promote a live video stream of Trump’s address in 2018. The year before, in 2017, a video wasn’t promoted on the homepage because Trump delivered a joint statement to Congress, not a State of the Union. An Internet Archive capture of the Google homepage confirmed the company’s statement.

5. A false claim about the Brett Kavanaugh hearings spread on Twitter.

The tweet implied, without any proof, that the prosecutor Republican senators retained to question Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford stopped asking Kavanaugh questions because she had determined that he lied. The tweet falsely sourced the information to the Wall Street Journal and was soon amplified by reporters and commentators on Twitter, racking up thousands of retweets and likes. After the falsehood spread, the editor-in-chief of the Wall Street Journal, Matt Murray, tweeted a warning about unsourced claims.
BuzzFeed News

The tweet implied, without any proof, that the prosecutor Republican senators retained to question Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford stopped asking Kavanaugh questions because she had determined that he lied.

The tweet falsely sourced the information to the Wall Street Journal and was soon amplified by reporters and commentators on Twitter, racking up thousands of retweets and likes. After the falsehood spread, the editor-in-chief of the Wall Street Journal, Matt Murray, tweeted a warning about unsourced claims.

6. A writer for a far-right website known for spreading falsehoods tried to claim pipe bombs sent to liberals were the result of a conspiracy to frame conservatives. In reality, the man who sent the bombs was a Trump supporter.

BuzzFeed News

7. Another conspiracy spread by right-wing websites and pundits about the man who sent the pipe bombs falsely claimed he was a registered Democrat.

8. Trolls targeted Miami Herald reporter Alex Harris with doctored tweets during the Parkland school shooting.

Twitter initially said this wasn’t against their policies but later said it would revise that policy after an inquiry from BuzzFeed News.
Screenshots

Twitter initially said this wasn’t against their policies but later said it would revise that policy after an inquiry from BuzzFeed News.

9. After the Parkland shooting, far-right websites spread false conspiracies targeting the surviving students, comparing them to Nazis.

Breitbart

10. Far-right trolls tried to falsely claim that LGBT activists want pedophilia accepted as a sexuality.

The image of the poster spread online, primarily through Facebook, and made the rounds on forums about the baseless Pizzagate and QAnon conspiracy theories. The poster was originally stapled onto a telephone pole near a school in Portland, Oregon. Local news outlet KATU confirmed it was real and reported that the neighbors tore it down. Who put it up and why remains a mystery, but there is no movement within the LGBT community to include pedophiles.
Twitter

The image of the poster spread online, primarily through Facebook, and made the rounds on forums about the baseless Pizzagate and QAnon conspiracy theories. The poster was originally stapled onto a telephone pole near a school in Portland, Oregon. Local news outlet KATU confirmed it was real and reported that the neighbors tore it down. Who put it up and why remains a mystery, but there is no movement within the LGBT community to include pedophiles.

11. Donald Trump tweeted a viral video of the migrant caravan with a false context.

Can you believe this, and what Democrats are allowing to be done to our Country?

The video shows people in the caravan receiving something that could be money, tickets, papers, or anything else. It was first brought into the mainstream by conspiracy theorists who baselessly claimed that the “UN and Soros are behind migrant caravan invasion” and used remarks Trump made at a rally to bolster the unfounded claims. However, there is no evidence that people in the migrant caravan were paid by George Soros or Democrats to participate in it.

12. This image of a child in a cage is from a protest, not a detention center.

The photo was taken out of context on social media. The photographer said the little boy wandered inside the cage during a protest in Dallas.
Facebook

The photo was taken out of context on social media. The photographer said the little boy wandered inside the cage during a protest in Dallas.

13. This image of a mom and her kids fleeing tear gas was used as fuel for false online conspiracies.

The photo, taken by Reuters photographer Kim Kyung-Hoon, shows Maria Meza from Honduras, who told BuzzFeed News in an interview that she wanted to protect her children. It was not staged.
Twitter

The photo, taken by Reuters photographer Kim Kyung-Hoon, shows Maria Meza from Honduras, who told BuzzFeed News in an interview that she wanted to protect her children. It was not staged.

14. This photo doesn’t show the Mexican police being “brutalized” by the caravan.

Facebook: ExploitingTheNiche

The main picture being shared was actually taken during clashes with students back in 2012. The photographer who took the photo of a bloodied officer later described what was really going on in the images.

15. Likewise, this is not a photo of a person in the migrant caravan with an illness.

The image is part of a set of photos, taken in 2014 at a border protection facility in south Texas, which were released to the Houston Chronicle. The old photo was spread on Facebook as proof that people in the caravan have illnesses they could infect others with. That claim was popularized by Fox & Friends without evidence.
Facebook

The image is part of a set of photos, taken in 2014 at a border protection facility in south Texas, which were released to the Houston Chronicle. The old photo was spread on Facebook as proof that people in the caravan have illnesses they could infect others with. That claim was popularized by Fox & Friends without evidence.

16. Nigel Farage shared a fake anti-refugee image on Twitter to his 1.2 million followers.

The original image was taken in 2015 by Canadian journalist Lasia Kretzel, now a News 1130 reporter in Vancouver, and shows a woman wearing a sign that says, “My door is open for refugees.”
Twitter

The original image was taken in 2015 by Canadian journalist Lasia Kretzel, now a News 1130 reporter in Vancouver, and shows a woman wearing a sign that says, “My door is open for refugees.”

17. Trump retweeted a false claim that said people were chanting “We want Trump” during the Yellow Vests protests in Paris.

The closest BuzzFeed News came to finding a source for the claim was a video posted on Twitter, claiming to be from France, which got more than 17,000 retweets. A copy of that video posted on YouTube clearly states that the video came from England.
Twitter

The closest BuzzFeed News came to finding a source for the claim was a video posted on Twitter, claiming to be from France, which got more than 17,000 retweets. A copy of that video posted on YouTube clearly states that the video came from England.

Zombie Hoaxes

A hoax that keeps going viral repeatedly despite being debunked is called a zombie hoax. Here are some we debunked this year.

18. A video report of people in Gaza burning Snickers bars was repurposed to make a false claim that the chocolate causes cancer.

In the video, a man with the consumer protection bureau in Gaza says, “We destroyed Snickers and Mars chocolate after working with the products’ importers and distributors. There was an order for them to be recalled from the market.” The story had nothing to do with cancer.
Facebook

In the video, a man with the consumer protection bureau in Gaza says, “We destroyed Snickers and Mars chocolate after working with the products’ importers and distributors. There was an order for them to be recalled from the market.” The story had nothing to do with cancer.

19. Morgan Freeman didn’t say “Jail Hillary,” but that false claim keeps going viral.

The post was originally published in late 2017 by Your News Wire, a website that frequently pushes false news stories and conspiracy theories. The fake news story went viral again in April. It generated more than 730,000 Facebook likes, shares, and comments over its lifetime.
Screenshot

The post was originally published in late 2017 by Your News Wire, a website that frequently pushes false news stories and conspiracy theories. The fake news story went viral again in April. It generated more than 730,000 Facebook likes, shares, and comments over its lifetime.

20. Hoaxes about Muslims wanting to ban dogs in public keep going viral.

Facebook: theblacksphere.net

This hoax started in 2016 with a flyer of questionable origin and continues to live online, getting thousands of engagements each time.

21. Recurring claims of voter fraud came in all forms.

Trying to STEAL two big elections in Florida! We are watching closely!

Falsehoods form the midterms included the claim that US voting machines were owned by Hungarian billionaire George Soros, that “illegals” were paid to vote for Beto O’Rourke, and that busses of undocumented migrants were brought in to cast ballots. Similar hoaxes were spread during the 2016 presidential elections. President Trump also tweeted claims that echoed those false online conspiracies.

22. During every shooting, trolls spread false images of suspects and victims. Images of Sam Hyde, a far-right YouTuber, made an appearance during many attacks this year, including the Parkland, YouTube, and Jacksonville shootings.

Twitter

23. A fake photo of a shark in the street inevitably gets posted during every hurricane.

Believe it or not, this is a shark on the freeway in Houston, Texas. #HurricaneHarvy

This has been happening for over seven years. The photoshopped image previously made appearances during hurricanes Irene and Matthew, Superstorm Sandy, and other storms.

Jokes Not Everyone Got

24. The Friends movie trailer is fake.

View this video on YouTube

youtube.com

People fell for it anyway because of the nostalgia.

25. People on Twitter lost their minds over the Trump Gorilla Channel parody.

Wow, this extract from Wolff’s book is a shocking insight into Trump’s mind:

This tweet came on the heels of a book called Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House being released. There are some pretty explosive allegations in it, so the joke tweet hit close to home for some.

26. A joke about Jamaica making Korean pop music illegal went over a lot of people’s heads.

A spokesperson for Jamaica’s prime minister ultimately stepped in. Robert Nesta Morgan, director of communications for Prime Minister Andrew Holness, replied to the viral tweet and said “This is NOT TRUE!!!!!”

27. There is no Monster ham.

“White people dont have culture” OK THEN EXPLAIN THIS

The image was photoshopped but the jokes were real good.

29. A barefoot runner who demanded his neighbors clean up acorns from the sidewalk was just trolling, but people fell for it.

This post in my neighborhood FB group is getting absolutely destroyed

Eric Curtis is not a competitive barefoot runner. The post was him trolling his neighbors. But no one bothered to check his claims. “I can’t believe BuzzFeed was the one who actually fact checked,” he told BuzzFeed News.

Believe it.

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