NOT REAL NEWS: A look at what didn’t happen this week New York Trump Data Chicago Robert Aaron Long


A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. None of these are legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked them out. Here are the facts:

Racist Facebook post attributed to Atlanta shooting suspect is fake

THE CLAIM: On Tuesday, hours before police say Robert Aaron Long killed eight people at three Atlanta-area massage businesses, he posted on Facebook that China was engaged in a “COVID coverup” and “AMERICANS NEED TO FIGHT BACK AGAINST CHINA, NOW.”

THE FACTS: The post is not authentic. The fictitious image began circulating Tuesday night after Long was identified as a suspect in the mass shootings that took place at the Atlanta-area massage businesses. The image is designed to look like a Facebook post made by Long. It uses a picture of him, which was circulating widely in media reports Tuesday night, next to what looks like a Facebook update that accuses China of a “COVID coverup” and calls the country “THE GREATEST EVIL OF OUR TIME.” In an email, Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said the platform was removing the post. “We’ve confirmed that these screenshots are fake and we’re removing them from the platform for violating our policies,” Stone said in a statement. Still, the manipulated image continues to be shared by some on Twitter and Facebook. The falsified screenshot was also being picked up by outlets that serve the Korean American community, and news sites in South Korea, in their coverage of the shootings. South Korea’s Foreign Ministry earlier said that its diplomats in Atlanta have confirmed that four of the victims who died were of Korean descent. Tuesday’s mass shooting has raised further fear amid a surge in hate crimes targeting Asian Americans.

— Associated Press writer Amanda Seitz in Chicago contributed this report.

Claim that 9,000 border crossers were apprehended in 2020 is false

CLAIM: In all of 2020, there were only 9,000 immigrants caught at the border without legal status. So far in 2021, 108,000 entered the country.

THE FACTS: A popular Facebook post is spreading false statistics about the number of migrants apprehended at the southern border since President Joe Biden took office compared to the last year of the Trump administration. “SLEEPY JOE NOW SAYING HE INHERITED ‘A MESS’ AT THE BORDER. FACT: 9,000 ILLEGALS ALL OF 2020. SO FAR IN 2021 108,000 ENTERED U.S,” says the post, which has been shared thousands of times on Facebook. But those numbers are not correct. U.S. Customs and Border Protection does not document the number of individuals who were stopped but rather the number of encounters, which can reflect the same person attempting to cross more than once. Monthly statistics from CBP show that from January 1 to December, 31, 2020, the last full year of Trump’s presidency, border officials had 547,816 encounters with people trying to cross the Southwest border. Biden took office on Jan. 20. In the first two months of 2021, there were 178,883 encounters, according to CBP numbers. It is unclear where the incorrect statistics shared on social media came from. Data from CBP show that more than 70 percent of encounters at the border in February resulted in immediate expulsions.


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