A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue headlines of the week. None of these stories is legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked these out; here are the real facts:
NOT REAL: White House: GOP Train crash was ‘Deep State’ assassination attempt
THE FACTS: The White House issued no statement about GOP lawmakers being targeted for assassination after Wednesday’s collision between a train carrying dozens of lawmakers to a party retreat and a truck. National Transportation Safety Board officials say the crash appears to be an accident and have interviewed witnesses who said safety arms near the rural Virginia site weren’t working a day earlier. The crash spawned dozens of reports that the GOP was targeted by faulty traffic control systems and a cyber-attack.
NOT REAL: NFL Lawyer who claimed Super Bowl is ‘rigged’ is found dead
THE FACTS: There’s no truth to the story about an entertainment lawyer named Dan Goodes, his claims the Super Bowl was rigged and a report he was found shot to death in a car in New York. The NFL has no lawyer by that name, and New York’s medical examiner’s office had no record of anyone by that name dying in the city. The league’s spokesman said of the report, “We don’t comment on ridiculous fake news.”
NOT REAL: FBI: Antifa planning Super Bowl ‘Terrorist Attack’
THE FACTS: FBI officials in Minneapolis said repeatedly this week there have been no credible threats to this Sunday’s Super Bowl. Several outlets reported threats and planned attacks by members of anarchist groups after a banner was unfurled at a press event this week. Some community groups plan a march before Sunday’s game to protest corporate greed and racism, and the Minneapolis chapter of Black Lives Matter plans rallies to demand renters’ rights and living wages.
NOT REAL: Pedophile Priest With HIV Who Raped 30 Children, Found Crucified Outside Church
THE FACTS: A report that a priest was found dead outside his church in Oaxaca, Mexico, after the church exonerated him in the assaults of young girls went viral in recent weeks. The story of the priest, Jose Garcia Ataulfo, was published by a conspiracy site known for false accounts. Mexico’s archdiocese has no record of the priest at the archdiocese.
NOT REAL: Pluto has been officially reclassified as a planet!
THE FACTS: Recent reports that an astronomers’ association had reclassified Pluto as a planet were April Fools’ Day hoaxes that recirculated on social media over the past week. The International Astronomical Union revoked Pluto’s planetary status in 2006, calling it a “dwarf planet,” after determining that it was not clearing the neighborhood around its orbit, like a planet should.
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.