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Claim of Susan Rice tribunal, Gavin Newsom indictment is Pants on Fire false

Since Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump and was inaugurated as president, fantastical claims have been made that the American military has arrested, put on trial or even executed various political figures.

Were any of them true, they would have generated massive news coverage. 

As it is, they aren’t.

Such is the case with a Facebook post that makes a cryptic claim about two prominent Democrats: Susan Rice, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who is head of President Joe Biden’s Domestic Policy Council, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

It says: “Ambassador Susan Rice Tribunal, Gavin Newsom indicted.”

The July 22 post 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.) It was shared from an account called Breaking from US, but it is not a credible page.

News of either alleged action would be widely covered by the media. No such reports exist, nor credible evidence to support either part of the claim, which is completely baseless.

The post includes a 35-minute video that starts with a promotion of bug repellent. About 19 minutes in, the woman hosting the video shares screenshots of and reads two articles posted July 20 by Real Raw News. The website has a history of publishing false claims, including that Hillary Clinton was hanged at Guantanamo Bay, which we rated Pants on Fire.

One article shared in the video claims the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps used powers under the Insurrection Act to indict Newsom after finding he “betrayed his oath of office” by imposing mask mandates and taking “bribes and kickbacks.”

The other article claims the same office convicted Rice on charges “of high treason and sentenced her to death for her participation in a 2017 scheme to defame” Trump “by falsely and knowingly linking his campaign to baseless allegations of Russian collusion.”

There is no evidence for either part of the claim.

Like many of the other claims we have rated from this site, this post, too, gets a Pants on Fire!

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Spotify’s Joe Rogan repeats inaccurate claim that ‘they are monitoring SMS texts’

In a recent episode of his popular podcast, Spotify host Joe Rogan implied that the government is “monitoring SMS texts for dangerous misinformation about COVID vaccines.”

That’s not true. The effort Rogan was referring to is not about intercepting or screening private text messages, and there’s no evidence the government is involved with it, as PolitiFact has reported.

The misleading claim came about an hour and a half into the podcast as Rogan, whose show was the most popular podcast on Spotify in 2020, discussed issues of surveillance and privacy with journalist Abby Martin, his guest for the July 20 episode. 

“Look, we’re living in a panopticon here,” Martin said. “We’re in a surveillance state that is undoubtedly so.” Martin then asked Rogan if he thought his emails were being watched. 

“I assume all my emails are monitored,” Rogan said in response. “But have you seen the new thing about SMS text messages to stop COVID vaccine misinformation?

“They are monitoring SMS texts for dangerous misinformation about COVID vaccines,” Rogan continued. “Now look, misinformation is not good, right, with anything. But who’s deciding?”

Rogan’s claim was vague about who “they” are and what messages were being monitored, but in context of discussion of a “surveillance state,” it gave the false impression that the government is screening private texts between family and friends — a claim that several conservative politicians and pundits, such as Sen. Josh Hawley and Fox News host Tucker Carlson, made more explicitly.

That allegation grew out of a Politico report about the Biden White House’s efforts to fight back against what it perceives as misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines.

The July 12 report included this nugget about SMS text messages:

“Biden allied groups, including the Democratic National Committee, are also planning to engage fact-checkers more aggressively and work with SMS carriers to dispel misinformation about vaccines that is sent over social media and text messages. The goal is to ensure that people who may have difficulty getting a vaccination because of issues like transportation see those barriers lessened or removed entirely.”

DNC spokesman Lucas Acosta told PolitiFact that the party is merely notifying companies that facilitate bulk texting about broadcast SMSs that spread misinformation. Broadcast SMSs are messages that organizers blast out to large lists of subscribers, often through an application such as Twilio or Bandwidth.

“When the DNC’s counter-disinformation program receives complaints or reports of fraudulent broadcast SMSs that we believe violate the text aggregators’ terms of service, we notify the broadcast text platform to help combat this troubling trend,” Acosta said. 

“Of course the DNC has no ability to access or read people’s private text messages, and we are not working with any government agency, including the White House, to try to see personal text messages,” Acosta said. “The only texts reviewed are those distributed en masse to American citizens through broadcast text platforms and reported to the DNC.”

Speaking about the effort on his podcast, Rogan did not distinguish between the government and the DNC, or between the personal texts exchanged between individuals and the type of mass texts blasted to mailing lists that the DNC is concerned about, leaving room for confusion. 

Politico reporter Natasha Korecki, who co-authored the report that spawned the false claims of government spying, said in a pair of tweets that the White House is not involved, and that “there is no ability for groups to read individual texts aside from the ones they receive themselves.”

And CTIA, a trade group representing the wireless communications industry, said in a statement: “Wireless carriers do not read or moderate the content of text messages that their customers send to each other, nor are carriers working with third parties to do so.”

A Spotify representative declined to comment on behalf of the company and Rogan.

Our ruling

In a conversation about privacy and living in “a surveillance state,” Rogan said, “They are monitoring SMS texts for dangerous misinformation about COVID vaccines.”

Rogan’s vague references to “they” and “SMS texts” could have left some listeners with the misleading impression that the government is snooping on all text messages that Americans send and receive, including private messages. 

That’s not the case. The effort he alluded to comes from the Democratic National Committee, which is alerting companies that facilitate bulk text messaging to reports about mass text messages that spread misinformation in violation of their terms of service. The government is not involved, and no messages are being screened.

The statement leaves out context that could give a different impression. We rate Rogan’s statement Mostly False.

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No evidence for viral claim that ‘22 million illegal aliens’ are ‘voting illegally’

Social media users on Facebook and Instagram are sharing a years-old image that wrongly claims 22 million people are not only living in the U.S. illegally, but voting in elections.

“I’ll tell you what a constitutional crisis is: 22 million illegal aliens living in America and using benefits they never contributed to and voting illegally,” the text over the image says.

The image 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.) 

The image, which appeared on Facebook as early as April 2019, is circulating as supporters of former President Donald Trump continue to promote the false narrative that the 2020 election was stolen from him. But the claims in the image have always been inaccurate.

There is no evidence that 22 million immigrants regularly vote in American elections despite living in the country without legal permission, or that they did so in 2020. In fact, it’s not clear that there are even that many people living in the country illegally to begin with.

“There is no evidence that there are 22 million immigrants in the U.S. voting illegally, either in 2020 or at any time,” said Lorraine Minnite, an associate professor of public policy at Rutgers University in Camden. “The claim is preposterous.”

A screenshot shows the viral image circulating on Facebook and Instagram as it appeared July 27, 2021.

No evidence of widespread fraud

President Joe Biden won more votes than Trump in what local, state and federal officials affirmed was a free and fair election absent of the widespread fraud Trump claimed. 

Judges across the country rejected dozens of lawsuits seeking to overturn the election, in many cases because the allegations of fraud came without the proof needed to back them up.

The image claiming 22 million immigrants are living and voting illegally similarly lacks proof. 

“One would think that such claims of historic subversion in our democracy would be backed up by the receipts to prove them,” said Matthew Weil, director of the elections project at the Bipartisan Policy Center. “There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud at any level.” 

Federal law requires citizenship to vote in national elections, and would-be voters sign a form attesting under penalty of perjury that they are citizens when they register to do so. As PolitiFact has reported, states can check various databases to verify voters’ citizenship status.

“Election officials spend the weeks before and after Election Day constantly reconciling voter rolls and ballot totals to ensure that only eligible Americans cast ballots,” Weil said. He added that cases of fraudulent voting are rare in any year and often the result of misunderstandings.

Minnite, who wrote a book about “The Myth of Voter Fraud,” said the most common problem she has seen in her research on the issue is noncitizens getting accidentally registered to vote when they go to the DMV. But the number of people who fall into this category is “miniscule,” she said.

In previous years, PolitiFact fact-checked several similar claims from Trump and others — all inaccurate — about immigrants voting illegally in the 2008, 2016 and 2018 elections

Our reporting pointed to research from several organizations that found voter fraud among noncitizens is not widespread. Experts also told us at the time that fraud on the scale of millions would require months of coordination going undetected by elections officials. 

For there to be “22 million” immigrants unlawfully in the U.S. and “voting illegally,” as the latest viral image now claims, there would also need to be that many people in the country illegally. 

And each and every one of them would have to be casting a ballot.

But the one study from 2018 that estimated the population here illegally was around 22.1 million has been criticized by demographers and immigration experts, who said it’s not grounded in empirical research about illegal immigration patterns and overestimates migration from Mexico, among other things, as PolitiFact reported. The Homeland Security Department, Pew Research Center, Center for Migration Studies of New York and Migration Policy Institute have all settled on much lower estimates.

“In each case, the organizations have individually developed estimates within a pretty tight range of about 10.5 million to 11.5 million unauthorized immigrants overall in the United States,” said Michelle Mittelstadt, communications director for the Migration Policy Institute, a think tank.

Finally, immigrant adults living in the country illegally are ineligible for nearly all federal public benefits, with few exceptions, Mittelstadt said. That’s despite the fact that some pay many forms of taxes, including state and local sales taxes and property taxes.

Our ruling

A viral image says there are “22 million illegal aliens living in America and … voting illegally.”

That’s not true. Many reliable entities, including the Homeland Security Department and the Pew Research Center, estimate that there are closer to 11 million people living illegally in the U.S. There’s no evidence that 22 million are regularly voting illegally or did so in 2020.

We rate this statement False.

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No, Delaware doesn’t limit what parents can buy with child support payments

An old post about Delaware limiting what mothers can buy with child support payments is again spreading on social media, but it wasn’t accurate then and it isn’t accurate now. 

“New ‘child support card’ controls what mothers can and CANNOT buy with child support money,” reads a screenshot of what looks like a headline that was posted on Facebook in June 2016

Other screenshots in the post say that “it will not allow the parent to purchase alcohol, cigarettes or pay any other kind of bill” and that “if the programme is successful in the states of Delaware, the government might apply it nationwide thus controlling its usage.” 

This post 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 spokesperson for the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, which includes the state’s child support services division, told PolitiFact “there is no validity to this claim.” 

Delaware law requires parents to support their children up to age 18 or 19. If one parent fails to support their child, the other parent can seek a court order to pay. Court-ordered payments are made to the child support division, which distributes the money to child support recipients

The division sends child support payments on prepaid debit cards that are issued by U.S. Bank. It’s called a ReliaCard, and neither the state nor U.S. Bank “controls, tracks or denies purchases” with it, according to the child support services division. 

Before the state started sending payments using the prepaid debit card in February 2020, child support recipients received payments on what was called a First State Family Card. This was a prepaid Visa card that was credited whenever a child support payment was received, and the state didn’t limit purchases with this card, either.

We rate this post False. 

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Large-scale testing, not individual testing, tells when delta variant causes COVID-19

Public health experts say the delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus appears to be twice as contagious as the original coronavirus, and has become the dominant strain in the United States.

So, we must have a test that diagnoses this new mutation, right?

With a rhetorical question, a meme that shows a pensive Albert Einstein doubts the existence of the variant by claiming there is no test for it, saying:  

“SINCE THERE IS NO ‘DELTA VARIANT’ TEST EXACTLY HOW ARE PEOPLE BEING DIAGNOSED WITH DELTA VARIANT.”

The post 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.)

No one is being diagnosed with the delta variant, or any other variant. Routine tests that individuals receive to determine whether they have COVID-19 do not reveal whether the disease was caused by the delta variant. 

But through what is known as genomic sequencing, public health officials examine samples of cases to estimate what percentage were caused by delta.

Genomic sequencing from a positive test sample, said Stephen Morse, professor of epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Center, “would tell you unequivocally what variant infected that person.”

What is a variant? What is the delta?

A variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is one that has mutated in a way that bolsters its spread or severity compared with the original strain that emerged in Wuhan, China. Public health officials have noted four “variants of concern” circulating in the United States, including delta, formally called B.1.617.2. Discovered in India in December 2020 and in the U.S. in March 2021, it is the most transmissible of the four variants. While it is not yet known if the delta produces more serious illness, it threatens to accelerate the spread of the pandemic.

If individual testing doesn’t reveal delta, how do we know it is in play?

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains how it tracks variants by analyzing some 750 samples per week from state health departments and other public health agencies and making estimates:

“The SARS-CoV-2 genome encodes instructions organized into sections, called genes, to build the virus. Scientists use a process called genomic sequencing to decode the genes and learn more about the virus. Genomic sequencing allows scientists to identify SARS-CoV-2 and monitor how it changes over time into new variants, understand how these changes affect the characteristics of the virus, and use this information to better understand how it might impact health.”

In the U.S., delta is the cause of more than 80% of new COVID-19 cases, according to the CDC.

Our ruling

Individuals are not being diagnosed with the delta variant.

Routine individual tests don’t reveal whether COVID-19 was caused by the delta variant. Scientists use genomic sequencing to determine what percentage of cases were caused by the variant. 

This post contains an element of truth, but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression. 

We rate it Mostly False.

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It’s not true that the women’s U.S. soccer team kneeled during the national anthem at the Olympics

A photo and caption circulating on Facebook would have social media users believe that several members of the U.S. women’s soccer team kneeled during the American national anthem before their defeat in the delayed 2020 Olympic opener. 

A Facebook user on July 21 shared a photo that shows eight of 11 members of the team kneeling. In the photo, the other three team members are shown standing with their left hand behind their back and their right over their heart, which suggests the national anthem is playing.

The caption accompanying the photo reads, “Our U.S. Women’s Soccer Team LOST to Sweden.”

Similar posts popped up on Twitter, with one tweet sharing the same photo alongside the caption: “They just lost 3-0 to Sweden. That’s what you get for kneeling to George Floyd.” 

The post 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.)

The captions paired with the photo suggest that the image depicts a scene from the Tokyo Olympics, but that is not the case. A Google Image search shows this image is from the 2021 SheBelieves Cup, which was held Feb. 18-24 in Orlando, Fla.

Other fact-checking outlets have also debunked the claim that this photo was taken at the Tokyo Olympics — and disproven as false the claim that any teams took a knee during their country’s national anthem. They didn’t.

In its 2020 Olympic debut on July 21, the U.S. women’s national team lost 3-0 to Sweden. The loss ended a 44-game winning streak for the U.S. team, which had been knocked out of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics by Sweden and had hoped to have a better showing against its rival in 2020.

The U.S. team — along with four other Olympic teams, including Sweden — participated in a protest against discrimination and racial inequality by taking a knee before its first match. 

The Associated Press reported that the soccer players who dropped to their knees ahead of their matches on July 21 “were the first athletes to use the Olympic platform for a display of activism” since the International Olympic Committee changed the rules to allow protests within limited parameters.

The IOC’s rules state that athletes “have the opportunity to express their views” during the games “on the field of play prior to the start of the competition (i.e. after leaving the ‘call room’ (or similar area) or during the introduction of the individual athlete or team).” The IOC also specified that the protests must not directly target countries or individuals and cannot be “disruptive.” 

The guidelines still prohibit acts of protest during competition on the field of play, during official ceremonies including victory ceremonies and in the Olympic Village. 

Neither the U.S. women’s national team nor the other four teams that protested racism by kneeling before their matches appear to have been in violation of the new Olympic rules. 

Members of the teams kneeled when the referee’s whistle blew, as pregame music continued to play. When the U.S. and Swedish women’s teams took a knee, NPR reported that “a referee joined the players at midfield in dropping to the turf on one knee” as did an assistant referee. 

Yahoo! Sports explicitly said, “All 18 USWNT players stood for the anthem on Wednesday. It’s unclear if a protest during the anthem would be acceptable under the new IOC rules.” 

One photo on Getty Images also depicts members of the U.S. women’s soccer team standing during the U.S. national anthem on July 21. 

Our ruling

Posts on social media suggest that a photograph shows some members of the U.S. women’s soccer team kneeling during the national anthem at the Tokyo Olympics. 

In reality, the photo was taken in February 2021 at the SheBelieves Cup in Florida — not at the 2020 Olympics. 

Members of the U.S. women’s national team took a knee on July 21 ahead of their first Olympic match in Japan. They were standing during the U.S. national anthem. 

We rate this claim False.

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No, that Olympics hot mic video isn’t real — it’s a joke

A spoof video shared on a comedian’s Twitter page has journeyed from joke to scandal as some people sharing and seeing it online appear to believe it’s authentic. 

It’s not. 

But here’s the premise: an NBC producer is caught on a hot mic saying: “We just spoke to a chief medical examiner. They said 60% of people in this stadium will be dead within 10 days. They’re thinking of using the swimming pool as a mass grave. Did you know that? Yeah they’re just going to start burning bodies.”  

A post sharing the video 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.) That video originated on TikTok.

“This is obviously not authentic,” a spokesperson for NBC Sports told PolitiFact. NBC is broadcasting the Olympics in the United States. 

Comedian Tim Dillon shared the video on his Twitter account on July 23, writing, “Man this is crazy. NBC employee fired after hot mic incident at Olympics.” 

Some users are clearly in on the joke, like those commenting on a post in a forum that describes the video as the “greatest hot mic moment ever.”

But we rate claims that it’s real False. 

 

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Here’s why experts say people who had COVID-19 should be vaccinated

As the U.S. tries to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates, skeptics on social media are challenging the efficacy of vaccines for people who were previously infected by the virus.

Dr. Joseph Mercola, an osteopathic physician identified as a top spreader of anti-vaccine misinformation on Facebook, dismissed the need for vaccination in people who have had COVID-19.

“It makes no sense to require vaccinations for the previously infected,” Mercola wrote in a post on his Facebook page.

The post 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.)

Mercola’s post responded to a tweet criticizing universities that are requiring vaccination, even for people who have recovered from COVID-19. The American College Health Association has recommended COVID-19 vaccination requirements for all on-campus college students this fall. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, 602 institutions had some type of vaccination requirement, as of July 26.

For this fact check, we wanted to know if medical experts agreed with Mercola’s claim that a prior COVID-19 diagnosis means you shouldn’t need to get vaccinated.

We should note that the science regarding how much protection a natural infection offers compared with a vaccine is still developing. But the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends COVID-19 vaccines for people 12 and older, even if they have been infected before.

“That’s because experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19,” the CDC website says

Mercola cites multiple studies

In an emailed statement to PolitiFact, Mercola said, “Natural immunity induces lasting antibody protection, and individuals who have had an SARS-CoV-2 infection are unlikely to benefit from a COVID-19 vaccination.”

His response included a link to a Cleveland Clinic study that examined 2,579 people previously infected with COVID-19 — including 1,359 who were not vaccinated — and found that none were re-infected over a period of five months. The study concluded that individuals who were previously infected were unlikely to benefit from COVID-19 vaccination and that the vaccine could be prioritized for people who have been uninfected. This study, which PolitiFact explored in June, has not yet been peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal.

In a June 9 statement about the study, the Cleveland Clinic said that their results “could help guide vaccination efforts should there be a shortage of vaccine supply and in countries where vaccine supply is limited.”

“We do not know how long the immune system will protect itself against re-infection after COVID-19,” the statement said. “It is safe to receive the COVID-19 vaccine even if you have previously tested positive, and we recommend all those who are eligible receive it.”

Mercola also cited two other studies to back his claim that vaccination is unnecessary for someone who has already had COVID-19. We reached out to an author of each of these studies to see what they thought about Mercola’s use of their respective findings.

Dr. Ali Ellebedy’s study measured the decline of bone marrow plasma cells, an important source of antibodies, in people previously infected with COVID-19. The study found that the levels of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies “declined rapidly in the first 4 months after infection and then more gradually over the following 7 months, remaining detectable at least 11 months after infection.”

Ellebedy said he encourages vaccination even if someone has been previously infected, and that his study should not be cited as a reason for a previously infected person to not get vaccinated.

“Our study shows that mild SARS-CoV-2 infection induces persistent immune molecules that are directed against the virus but does not address whether these levels of immunity can actually protect against infection,” Ellebedy said. “Also, it is important to remember that not all infected people mount a robust immune response, so it is wrong to generalize and say ‘if you are infected, you are protected.’”

The other study looked at whether the immune systems of people previously infected with the virus remembered contracting COVID-19. In a March 25 YouTube video sent to PolitiFact, co-author Dr. Shane Crotty said that with the laboratory measurements his team took, scientists can make some useful inferences, “but they don’t directly show protection.”

“The vaccines are eliciting even more immunity than natural infection,” Crotty said. He also reiterated Ellebedy’s point that the immune response to a natural COVID-19 infection can vary widely from person to person. Crotty said that these two factors have contributed to the public health recommendation of still getting vaccinated if you’ve been infected, and that he would get vaccinated if had COVID-19.

Vaccines broadens immunity

A natural infection could probably protect against hospitalization and death from a subsequent infection, possibly up to a few years, but it might not protect someone from a newer strain of the virus, said Dr. Paul Offit, chair of vaccinology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine.

“Your natural infection will provide protection against whatever (strain) you were naturally infected with, but now there’s a different virus circulating,” Offit said. “So by getting a vaccine, you’ll have a broader immune response to a more diverse population of SARS-CoV-2 viruses.”

Offit also pointed out that three peer-reviewed and published studies suggest that a single dose of an mRNA vaccine (such as ones from Pfizer or Moderna) gives comparable protection against COVID-19 in a previously infected person as it does in someone who got both doses.

Virologist Dr. Sabra Klein, a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said in a May interview published by Johns Hopkins University that vaccines provide better protection for people who have previously been infected.

“It gives them a strong, lasting immunity boost,” Klein said. “After receiving the first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, they have immunity levels comparable to those of uninfected people who have received their second dose.”

Offit said that in light of these studies, one mRNA shot could suffice in people who have been previously infected.

“There is no downside to vaccinating. All vaccination does is broaden and lengthen your immunity,” Offit said.

Additionally, the CDC has evidence that people who are fully vaccinated with an mRNA vaccine are less likely to transmit SARS-CoV-2 to others than unvaccinated people. This means that in the rare chance a person does get reinfected, they would likely have a lower chance of spreading the virus.

Our ruling

Mercola wrote, “It makes no sense to require vaccinations for the previously infected.”

Experts are unsure exactly how long someone is protected against COVID-19 after they have been infected. The CDC says vaccination is a more effective way of building protection against the virus, including variants.

The authors of the studies Mercola cited recommended that people who were previously infected with COVID-19 still get vaccinated. They say vaccination does make sense, because everyone can have varying degrees of immunity and it is unclear how long natural immunity lasts.

We rate Mercola’s claim False.

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Website promises money for drivers without a DUI, but there’s no proof

A social media post said that people with no DUIs can receive money back by entering their zip code to a website. 

“I’m so grateful for my neighbor (who works for the DMV) who told me about this!” read the text with a since-deleted July 22 Facebook post. “Drivers with no DUIs are getting up to $610 back in savings. I simply entered my zip and got $610 back just for having a good record.”

The post showed two pictures of people holding checks for $610 along with a link to a website that proclaimed, “All 50 States Approve $610 in Savings for US Drivers with No DUIs.” The post told people to “check eligibility” at a link on the site.

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its news feed. (Read more about PolitiFact’s partnership with Facebook.)

(Screengrab from Facebook)

 

It’s not clear what the headline is referencing, but we found no evidence “all 50 states” have approved sending money to drivers who don’t have DUIs. Experts and state DMV leaders told us they hadn’t heard of anything like that either.

 

When you click on the link from the post, it takes you to a website for The Brainy Penny and prompts you to enter a zip code. It then asks you to answer a series of questions, including the year, make, and model of your vehicle; whether your car is financed, owned, or leased; the name of your insurance provider; your gender, education, occupation and credit score; and any traffic violations.

 

PolitiFact contacted the website’s publishing company to ask about the post but did not get a response.

 

Robert Passmore, vice president of auto and claims policy at the American Property Casualty Insurance Association, said he was unaware of any programs offering people checks for not having any DUIs. 

 

“There are, however, programs that have ‘vanishing deductibles’ or ‘accident-free’ bonuses,” Passmore said, “but they aren’t tied to not having a DUI.”

 

Alex Hageli, director of personal auto, electronic issues, specialty lines and counsel at the American Property Casualty Insurance Association, said DUIs do usually increase a person’s premium. “However, having a DUI does not necessarily guarantee you will pay more than someone who does not have one, depending on your overall profile and another driver’s overall profile,” he said. “Auto rating factors all play off of one another to produce a premium, and one factor can negate another depending on its weight compared to another.”

 

PolitiFact contacted several states to find out if they were aware of any such program to send checks to people who don’t have DUIs. A spokesperson for the Washington, D.C., Department of Motor Vehicles said that they maintain driver records that include details related to drivers licenses (class, issue date, expiration date, etc.) and a summaries of all traffic violations, but the office does not have funding for a program like the post described. Similarly, a spokesperson with California Department of Motor Vehicles said that the department handles driving records but “it does not have a program that gives people money for not having a DUI.”  The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, which oversees driver’s licenses in the state, and the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security also said that they do not have programs that reward licensees for not getting DUIs.

 

This isn’t the first time a post like this has been flagged. Houston television news station KHOU 11 flagged a similar post in June and determined the post was a potential scam.

 

There is no evidence states are sending money to people who don’t have DUIs.

 

We rate this claim False.

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Video uses misleading labels to suggest that COVID-19 vaccinations were faked

The December 2020 rollout of COVID-19 vaccines prompted campaigns in which public officials and health care workers got their shots in front of TV cameras to help promote vaccination. 

These campaigns also ushered in a new wave of misinformation, including false claims about “disappearing needles” and staged public vaccinations.

Months after they were debunked, some of the same claims are still making the rounds.

A July 19 Facebook post — with the caption “Watch carefully…. so you think you haven’t been brainwashed” — includes a video montage that suggests people who got COVID-19 shots while on camera, including Vice President Kamala Harris, were faking being vaccinated. 

The post 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.)

Of six vaccinations shown in the montage, at least five are depicted in false or misleading ways; the montage incorporates one claim that first circulated and was debunked in December 2020. 

The first segment of the video shows Christine Elliott, minister of health for the Canadian province of Ontario, getting a shot. However, the footage is from October 2019 when Elliott received a routine flu vaccine, which was documented at that time in a Facebook post and video from a local TV station. 

The second segment in the Facebook video purports to depict Israeli politician Beni Ben Muvchar receiving a vaccine in December 2020. The video zooms in on the syringe being used, which appears to have no needle, and a Spanish-language text overlay says, “does not have a needle, isn’t loaded” and “she doesn’t push the plunger.”

Muvchar, in fact, did not receive a vaccine at that time. The clip of Muvchar is from a short promotional video intended to encourage others to get vaccinated, and “for the purposes of the video, a nurse pretends to give (Muvchar) the vaccine,” according to The Observers/France 24

The video had 2.8 million views on Facebook and was shared more than 70,000 times. Because of the furor over the staged demonstration, Muvchar posted a different video on Facebook of his actual vaccination. 

For the third segment, about five seconds long, we were unable to identify the person being vaccinated or the setting. 

The fourth segment in the Facebook video shows a health care worker administering a vaccine, and after the syringe is removed from the patient’s arm, the needle is no longer visible. A Spanish-language text overlay on the Facebook video says, “Now you see the needle … and now you don’t.”

The footage was from a real news story by BBC News, but the claim about the disappearing needles was debunked by the media outlet in December 2020. The syringe in the footage is a safety syringe, “in which the needle retracts into the body of the device after use,” BBC News reported

The fifth segment shows a nurse getting the shot at University Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, and the video zooms in on the syringe, which appeared to have had the plunger already depressed.

TV station KFOX14 said the footage was captured by its photojournalist during a public vaccination event, and the empty syringe appears to have been a mistake. The medical center said the nurse was vaccinated again properly after the center was alerted about it. The TV station reviewed footage of other nurses being vaccinated at the same event and did not see the same issue in any other case. 

The final segment in the Facebook video shows then-Vice President-elect Harris being vaccinated. The video zooms in on the nurse pushing the syringe against the arm of the chair where Harris is seated. Reuters reported that the nurse was using the arm rest to snap the cap back onto the syringe. The nurse wasn’t able to use her other hand to do this because it was on Harris’ arm.

Reuters reported that the exposed needle was visible in videos of Harris’ vaccination and that media photos clearly show the needle in her arm.

Our ruling

A Facebook post includes a video montage that purports to show that people who got COVID-19 shots while on camera, including Harris, were faking being vaccinated. 

The video clips included in the montage are of real events, but they are depicted and labeled in misleading ways. One of the video segments shows a flu shot that was administered in 2019, and another shows a staged promotional event. Other parts of the video mischaracterize the type of medical equipment used or mistakes that occurred during vaccinations and were later corrected. 

We rate this claim False.