Welcome back to our roundup of the things that were fake on the Internet this election, a frequently recurring series documenting the fake stories, misleading articles and hoaxes that have circulated online this election season.
Below are four of those misleading stories. Enjoy — but also, don’t share these fake news items as real. Please.
1. Michelle Obama, Barack Obama and Elizabeth Warren didn’t scrub references to Hillary Clinton from their Twitter accounts
Sean Hannity fell for this one on Tuesday, repeating an easily disproven Internet rumor on his radio show claiming at two different points that Michelle Obama, President Obama and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) had removed all references to Hillary Clinton from their Twitter accounts, after the FBI’s surprise entrance into the last weeks of the 2016 campaigns.
“That means they know it’s huge. You know why? Because Obama’s implicated!” Hannity said, according to a CNN write-up of the whole thing. “He’s implicated here, and he’s pissed. You know what his legacy might be? Jail.”
Hannity has since issued a correction on Twitter. He told CNN that the fake story he mentioned twice on air was “brought up in an insignificant way” and that he “was dealing with more important issues like HRC crimes and lies and how CNN has been colluding with the Clinton campaign and CHEATING Bernie Sanders.”
Not only is it simple to verify that the alleged Twitter scrubbing didn’t happen (by, er, searching Twitter), but it also appears that the rumor itself has mutated from its original form. The initial article making this claim mentions only Michelle Obama’s alleged scrubbing of all Clinton references (also untrue; Snopes has a more detailed breakdown). That claim was then aggregated by Gateway Pundit, a right-wing news site that has made multiple appearances in our election hoax roundups, which is how it found its way to Hannity.
2. The Amish didn’t just swing the election for Trump.
A couple of hoax news sites have published identical stories claiming that Donald Trump is now “mathematically guaranteed” a victory because all of the Amish in America have pledged to vote for him. The story has been widely shared on Facebook over the past week, despite multiple debunkings.
There is no real organization called the “American Amish Brotherhood,” as the fake article claims. A 2012 census counted about 250,000 Amish in the United States, and not the 20 million claimed in the hoax story. The U.S. Amish population is indeed growing, but not by that much.
In any case, this article — by noted fake news creator Paul Horner — does make more of an effort to fool its readers than a lot of the other hastily cobbled-together blog posts we’ve been seeing in Election Fake Land this year. It’s long, it has a fake “man on the street” reaction, a fake Nate Silver quote about the importance of the Amish vote, and fake statements from the Clinton campaign.
If you’re interested, there really was an effort to get out the Amish vote for Trump, but at this point it doesn’t appear that it has worked terribly well.
3. These Trump- and Hillary-referencing virus warnings are just copy-paste spam.
A pair of memes that trick people into sharing them by warning about a computer virus (that doesn’t appear to actually exist) are making the rounds again this week. The older one, called “Dance of the Hillary,” and the newer one, “Donald Trump arrested,” are both very similar to each other.
As Snopes notes, it’s not true that Trump has been arrested, but even more than that: There’s zero evidence that there are actual viruses connected to either of these phrases.
4. #StopthePot isn’t a Hillary Clinton campaign initiative.
Like #DraftOurDaughters, #StopThePot is an alt-right meme that basically involves creating fake Hillary Clinton campaign material of varying degrees of ridiculousness, and seeing if anyone actually thinks it’s real.
#StopThePot, I guess, is supposed to be a hilarious attempt to dissuade progressives and minorities from voting for Clinton by making her seem aggressively for a War on Drugs-style approach to criminalizing pot users. Another fake campaign image claims that Trump wants to “decriminalize” marijuana while Hillary wants “tougher marijuana laws/Enforced on a federal level.”
In fact, both candidates hold somewhat moderate positions on marijuana, although Clinton’s stated approach is much more thorough than Trump’s. She has said that if elected, her administration would reschedule marijuana from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2, work to reduce sentence lengths for nonviolent drug offenses, and allow states with existing marijuana laws to act as “laboratories of democracy” on the issue. Both candidates have said they support state-level legalization of medical marijuana.
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