People Are Crazy (Fact Check Edition)
Perusing Google News, I see this in the sidebar:
The first story tells us,
Conspiracy theorists are attempting to connect the death of antivirus software entrepreneur John McAfee to the Florida high-rise building that partially collapsed on June 24.
McAfee was found dead June 23 in a Spanish prison, where he was awaiting extradition to the United States on criminal tax evasion charges. He was 75 years old.
The next day, a condominium in Surfside, Florida, collapsed, resulting in at least four deaths and more than 150 missing people.
The two events are unrelated, but some social media users say there’s a nefarious connection.
A post circulating on social media falsely claims actor Denzel Washington said he’s “had it” with the Democratic Party’s “lies” and now supports former President Donald Trump. The fictitious quote attributed to Washington originated on a self-described satirical website. A representative for Washington confirmed “this post is a complete fabrication.”
A conspiracy theory widely shared on Facebook claims that the partial collapse of an oceanside condominium building near Miami was actually an attack aimed at a “high-value target” — Ivanka Trump, daughter of former President Donald Trump.
The claim, posted on the same day as the June 24 collapse, stated:
“What’re the chances that the building ‘collapse’ is 5 buildings south of Ivanka? 50 ppl still missing.. yup more and more convinced they were targeting hvt, if not also destroying evidence and/or closing tunnel entrances. USING THE TUNNELS UNDER THE HOTEL FOR SEARCH AND RESCUE. ‘The building was in OK shape.’ The upscale condo near Miami Beach still collapsed Champlain Towers South Condo in Surfside near Miami Beach was completed in 1981. A recent condo sold for $710,000 at the oceanside.”
The post, which included photos of the collapse and a map indicating the proximity of Ivanka Trump’s residence to that building, was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
A black plastic lid melts down the side of a dumpster, Salvador Dali-style. The wings of a ceiling fan droop toward the floor like a wilted flower. The rubber of a tire seems to drip down its hub.
These images are part of a viral Facebook post that claims to show the damage heat waves can do. As the Western U.S. continues to simmer under record high temperatures, over 80,000 users have shared the photos, which also made their way to Twitter.
“First big heat wave of 2021 arrived this weekend. This is damage done in the past by a heat wave. Enjoy whatever cold places you live because this ain’t for the faint of heart. #Arizonalife,” the creator of the post wrote.
But did a heat wave really cause the damage in the photos?
USA TODAY found that several of the photos actually show damage from fires or long-term exposure to dust and other weather conditions, not from heat waves. And the photos were taken from all over the world, not just Arizona, as the hashtag implied.
“And I might add: The Second Amendment, from the day it was passed, limited the type of people who could own a gun and what type of weapon you could own. You couldn’t buy a cannon.” — President Biden, remarks on gun violence, June 23
The president offered this aside as he made a litany of his regular points about the need for background checks and what he says was the effectiveness of bans on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines that expired.
Parenthetical asides from a prepared text often trip up presidents, especially Biden. In this case, he repeated a claim — that Americans were prohibited from owning cannons — that has already been fact-checked as false when he made it during the presidential campaign.
So, we have four outright nutjob conspiracies and the President of the United States saying something perfectly sensible but technically untrue. (There were no laws in 1791, when the 2nd Amendment was passed, restricting canon ownership. But it’s probably a good idea not to sell artillery to ordinary citizens.)
Granting that the Internet amplifies idiotic ideas and makes them seem more common than they are, the mind boggles that anyone believes any of this crap. Or that people who do are likely dissuadable via FactChecks from the Lame Stream Media.