A roundup of 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. The Associated Press checked these out. Here are the real facts:
THE CLAIM: “Three Muslim congresswomen just refused” to sign the oath of office to uphold the U.S. Constitution.
THE FACTS: The false social media post states that anyone who refuses to take an oath of office to uphold the U.S. Constitution should be disqualified from serving and claimed that “three Muslim congresswomen” had refused. There are not three Muslim congresswomen. In the November midterm elections, Rep.-elects Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, and Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat, became the first Muslim women elected to Congress. Representatives for both Omar and Tlaib called claims that they were refusing to take the oath “categorically false.” The swearing in ceremony for new members of Congress will be Jan. 3.
CLAIM: “NO CHRISTMAS TREES DEARBORN CANCELLED ALL XMAS PERMITS”
THE FACTS: Christmas merchandise is on sale in Dearborn, Michigan, despite a post circulating on social media that states such sales are no longer permitted. Mary Laundroche, Dearborn’s director of public information, confirmed that the city has no restrictions on the sale of Christmas items. Dearborn, a Detroit suburb, is home to the largest mosque in North America and has one of the largest Arab-American populations. Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the false claims are an attempt to spread fear around Muslims. But Jackie Lovejoy, president of the Dearborn Area Chamber of Commerce, said Christmas cheer in the city remains undiminished: “We are dressed for the holidays.”
THE CLAIM: “Snapchat filters are a facial recognition database created by the FBI.”
THE FACTS: The claim circulating on social media points users to “patent US9396354” as proof of the statement. A Snapchat spokeswoman said the information is inaccurate. She said the patented technology referred to in the post is not used in any Snapchat feature. Snapchat “lenses,” which the post calls “filters,” allow users on the mobile messaging app to alter faces in photos to manipulate the way they look. She said this feature relies on tracking technology, not facial recognition. Clare Garvie, senior associate at the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law Center, confirmed that Snapchat uses feature detection. She noted that use of the process is not unique to Snapchat. For example, the international beauty chain Sephora uses a similar feature to show customers how makeup products would look on their face.
THE CLAIM: “13,506 Marines have applied for Whitehouse Duty(sic) since the inauguration of President Trump. In the previous eight years, no Marines volunteered for this duty, they had to be ‘assigned.’ Speaks volumes.”
THE FACTS: Marines do not typically volunteer to be White House sentries; they are assigned, Maj. Brian Block, Marine Corps communications directorate, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “Most Marines who serve at the White House are assigned to that position based on the needs of the Marine Corps, after a lengthy and detailed screening process,” he said, “not – except in rare cases – because they volunteered.” He said the number of volunteers would be about a dozen, not tens of thousands.
THE CLAIM: “Burglar killed by falling Christmas tree after breaking into home in Huber Heights, OH,” by “NBC NEWS 6.”
THE FACTS: No such incident occurred in Huber Heights, a southwest Ohio suburb of about 38,000. There is no NBC News 6 station in that area. The false story said a 27-year-old man, who broke into a home in Huber Heights to steal presents, was killed when the Christmas tree fell and pierced his neck, pinning him under the tree. The Huber Heights Police Department referred The Associated Press to a statement on its Facebook page which said: “This is floating around social media, it did not occur.”
This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.