Trending Rumors

    Cops Post “Welcome to Baltimore” Billboard – Truth! & Fiction!

    Summary of eRumor:

    Following the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody, social media lit up with reports that Baltimore police had posted a “Welcome to Baltimore” billboard that claimed the mayor and city council had “turned their backs” on police and firefighters in the city.

    The Truth:

    The Welcome to Baltimore billboard was posted in the city, but not after the death of Freddie Gray.

    Unions for Baltimore police and firefighters put the Welcome to Baltimore billboard up in August 2010 during a squabble over pensions, the Baltimore Sun reports:

    “This billboard appears to have sprouted up over the weekend in view of City Hall at the mouth of I-83, the latest salvo in the fight over pensions for city police and fire fighters. A spokeswoman for the unions say it will be up throughout the month of August.

    “Changes in the pension system – which strip more money from the paychecks of officers and firefighters – were made necessary by a deficit in the police and fire retirement fund that could have cost the cash-strapped city $65 million. That problem came as the mayor had to close a $121 million budget shortfall by raising taxes and new fees.

    “Union officials have filed a federal lawsuit accusing the city of purposely underfunding the pension system and arguing that the changes violate contractual labor agreements.”

    A photo of the billboard resurfaced on social media in May 2015 after six police officers were arrested in the death of Freddie Gray. Many assumed that the Welcome to Baltimore billboard had just been put up, but that wasn’t the case.

    However, the Baltimore Police Union has been vocal in its support for the arrested officers. The union started an online #MyLifeMatters campaign to support the police officers. The Baltimore Police Union also started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for legal fees for the officers arrested in Freddie Gray’s death.

      Texas Governor Deploys State Guard to Stave Off Obama Takeover – Truth! & Fiction!

      Summary of eRumor:

      Texas Governor Greg Abbott has deployed the State Guard to prevent a take over of the state by President Obama as a joint military exercise called Jade Helm 15 got underway.

      The Truth:

      This claim is a mixture of truth and fiction.

      It’s true that Texas Governor Greg Abbot asked the State Guard to monitor the Jade Helm 15 joint military training exercise that was planned for Texas and five other states.

      However, reports that the Texas governor deployed the State Guard to “stave off” a federal takeover by President Obama is false.

      There has been a lot of speculation that Jade Helm 15 isn’t an innocent military training exercise. Conspiracy theories that claim Jade Helm 15 is actually an attempt to impose martial law, or to take over southern states, have run rampant on the Internet.

      TruthorFiction.com previously investigated these conspiracy theories about Jade Helm 15, and we didn’t find proof that it’s anyting more than a standard military training exercise. Click here for the story.

      Controversy about Jade Helm 15 boiled over on April 29, 2015, when 200 Texans raised questions about the exercise at a public meeting held in rural Bastrop County, Texas. Questions were raised about whether or not the government planned to confiscate weapons or impose martial law, the Associated Press reports:

      “Suspicions about Jade Helm intensified on some conservative websites and social media after a map labeled Texas, Utah and parts of California as ‘hostile’ for the purposes of the three-month training exercise that begins in July. Such war simulations aren’t unusual, though the Army has acknowledged that the size and scope of Jade Helm makes it unique.”

      In response to the strong public response, Texas Governor Greg Abbot requested in a letter that the State Guard “monitor” the training exercise, Reuters reports:

      “To address concerns of Texas citizens and to ensure that Texas communities remain safe, secure and informed about military procedures occurring in their vicinity, I am directing the Texas State Guard to monitor Operation Jade Helm 15. During the operation’s eight-week training period from July 2015 to September 2015, I expect to receive regular updates on the progress and safety of the operation.

      “During the training operation, it is important that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed. By monitoring the operation on a continual basis, the State Guard will facilitate communications between my office and the commanders of the operation to ensure that adequate measure are in place to protect Texans.

      “U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has assured Texas that each location selected for training exercises will pose no risk to residents or property and that they will coordinate with local residents via verbal and written communication.

      “Directing the State Guard to monitor the operation will allow Texas to be informed of the details of military personnel movements and training schedules, and it will give us the ability to quickly and effectively communicate with local communities, law enforcement, public safety personnel and citizens.”

      Abbott states in the letter that the State Guard would primarily help his office and Texans communicate with the planners of Jade Helm 15. However, a report by NPR that appeared under the headline, “Texas Governor Deploys State Guard to Stave Off Obama Takeover,” seemed to fan the flames about a standoff between the White House and Texas.

      A White House spokesperson said that he had “no idea what (Abbott) was thinking” when he sent the letter:

      “The thing that I can say without having a lot of detailed knowledge about the particular exercise is that in no way will the constitutional rights or civil liberties of any American citizen be infringed upon while this exercise is being conducted.”

      Days later, the Texas governor appeared before reporters to defend his decision to have the State Guard monitor Jade Helm 15:

      “We are playing a pivotal role of government and that is to provide information to people who have questions. It’s clear that people in Bastrop had questions … I frankly think that there was an overreaction to the simple fact that someone has to be in charge of gathering and disseminating information and we stepped in to play that role, which is a role to be applauded. What the letter did was quite simple and non-inflammatory, and I think that’s the way it should be construed.”

      So, it’s true that Texas Governor Abbot directed the State Guard to monitor Jade Helm 15 — but it’s not true that he deployed the State Guard to “stave off” a takeover by Obama.

        Woman Kicked Out of KFC for Breastfeeding Adult Son-Fiction!

        Summary of eRumor:

        A 76-year-old woman was thrown out of a KFC restaurant in Missouri for breastfeeding her 42-year-old son.

        The Truth:

        A fake news website started this hoax.

        The website 28NewsWatch falsely reported that Linda Berrety was kicked out of a KFC restaurant after other customers complained that she was breastfeeding her adult son, Michael:

        “This unusual episode has sparked strong reactions on social medias and provoked a huge debate on the limits of breastfeeding in public places, while many customers present at the time of the event seem to have seen a gesture of sexual nature and incest, rather than a gesture of maternal concern.

        “’What in God’s name was that?’ claims Ali Belfouz, a customer who witnessed the whole scene. ‘I have nothing against breastfeeding, but that was pure nonsense. I felt like if I was watching some fetish type of porno. You have to be insane to breastfeed your child at that age. They should of got arrested for gross indecency rather then getting expelled.’

        “’It’s my right as a mother to breastfeed my child,’ says Mrs. Berrety. ‘If people don’t agree with the way I raise my son, that’s their problem. I have raised a great man, beautiful, tall, who still lives and stays with me. I think I’ve done a great job as a mother and don’t appreciate getting insulted and expelled just because I decided to breastfeed my child a little longer than other mothers.’”

        The fake story was quickly shared more than 100,000 times on social media sites and tricked many into believing that it was true. However, the website’s disclaimer sates that its content is “interesting, controversial, abnormal, thought-provoking or satirical.”

        And a photo that appears with the story that claims to show Linda and Michael Berrety can easily be proven false. The woman pictured is 78-year-old Edna Martin, and the man is her 39-year-old husband, Simon. The couple has appeared in various news reports and television shows about people who are in relationships with a person half their age.

          Star of David Appears on Vans Shoes So Wearers can “Step on Jews”-Fiction!

          Summary of eRumor:

          The Star of David appears on the bottoms of Vans so that people can “step on Jews” while they wear them.

          The Truth:

          This urban legend is a hoax.

          The claim that the Star of David appears on the bottom of Vans shoes so people can “step on Jews” first began circulating in the 1990s. It refers to a crisscross rubber pattern on the soles of Vans shoes that appears to form the Star of David.

          The Anti-Defamation League said in 2006 “there is no truth to any of these allegations” in a statement:

          “While ADL understands that the use of the Star of David pattern in this context may be offensive to some, there is no factual basis to believe that the maker of Vans shoes incorporated the six-pointed star design in an attempt to insult Jews. Over the years the company has sought to reassure inquirers that the trademarked pattern is just that — a pattern — with no intended anti-Jewish message.”

          The ADL said that it first contacted Vans about the Star of David rumor in the 1990s. The chief executive said at the time that the six-pointed star pattern on the shoes “was not done with even any awareness that it was the Star of David.”

          The Van Doren Rubber Company was founded in Anaheim, California, in 1966 by brothers Paul and James Van Doren. James designed a “high-grip shoe, conceived as a boat shoe, that would hold the wearer firmly to a pitching deck,” according to his obituary:

          “Mr. Van Doren collaborated with a chemist to develop the rubber recipe used in the sole. A mechanical engineer by training, he also devised its characteristic tread pattern: diamonds interrupted by a band of tiny six-pointed stars at the ball of the foot. Together, rubber and tread made the sole clingy.”

          Although the shoe was initially designed for boating, it’s high-grip rubber sole made it a popular choice for skateboarders in Southern California in the 1970s. Today, the Van Doren Rubber Company is known simply as “Vans.”

            Video Shows Swimming Pool During Earthquake in Nepal-Fiction!

            Summary of eRumor:

            A video of a swimming pool outside a resort in Nepal captures the effects of an earthquake that devastated the country in April 2015.

            The Truth:

            This isn’t a video of a swimming pool during the earthquake that rocked Nepal.

            The swimming pool video was actually recorded outside a resort in Mexicali, Mexico, during a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in April 2010. This video shows the same swimming pool during the earthquake from a different angle.

            The earthquake in Mexicali caused one death and damaged a number of hotels, including the Hotel Del Coronado and the Sheraton Harbor Island, a local public broadcaster reports.

            The 7.9-magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal in 2015 caused much more death and destruction than the earthquake in Mexicali. The reason is that Nepal’s infrastructure was not built to withstand an earthquake of that magnitude.

            Within a week, the earthquake’s death toll in Nepal had risen to more than 6,000 people. Another 14,000 people were injured, the Guardian reports.

            The video that falsely claimed to show a swimming pool during the earthquake in Nepal surfaced on YouTube days after the tragedy. Within days of it being posted, more than 800,000 people had watched the video.

              Neighbor Hangs Black Figures in Baltimore to Intimidate Freddie Gray Protestors – Fiction! 

              Summary of eRumor: 

              After protests and riots erupted in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray, black figures were hung from trees in the city to intimidate protestors.

              The Truth: 

              Black figures were hung from trees in Baltimore during protests over Freddie Gray’s death, but the purpose of the display was not to intimidate black protestors.

              photo of the display went viral on Twitter on April 27, 2015, as protests and riots swept across Baltimore. Residents were protesting the death of Freddie Gray, who died while in police custody earlier in the month.

              Baltimore resident Loring Cornish said in a video that he had hung the black figures along Fulton Avenue to symbolize the relationship between police and the city’s residents:

              “Police are still lynching us today; instead they’re using bullets and the law to make it legal. So I decided to hang as many of these as I could from my tree because I don’t know what else to do, but this is what I can do. It may not be much, but this is a start, so I put them all over my trees in front of my house.”

              But photos of the black figures hanging from trees along Fulton Avenue in Baltimore quickly took on a different meaning. Twitter users posted the photo with captions that said things like, “In Baltimore, a white neighbor hanged black figures that look like black people hanging from trees.”

                99-year-old David Rockefeller Undergoes Sixth Heart Transplant – Fiction!

                Summary of eRumor:

                99-year-old billionaire David Rockefeller has successfully undergone his sixth heart transplant surgery in the last 38 years.

                The Truth:

                A fake news website started the false report that David Rockefeller has had six heart transplant surgeries.

                An article that appeared on the website World News Daily Report claimed that David Rockefeller, an heir to the billion-dollar Rockefeller estate, has had six heart transplants and two kidney transplants over the years:

                “His first heart transplant occurred in 1976 after a dramatic car accident led him to suffer a heart attack. He was operated 24 hours later and up and jogging a week later.”

                Within days, the fake news report was shared more than 130,000 times on social media. Many people believed that David Rockefeller had actually undergone his sixth heart transplant and argued about whether or not it was right for a rich, 100-year-old man to take a heart from a younger person in need.

                But those people missed World News Day Report’s disclaimer. It says that the website is not “responsible for inaccurate information” and assumes “all responsibility for the satirical nature of its articles.

                This isn’t the first time that David Rockefeller’s health has been at the center of an online hoax, either. Just weeks earlier, a separate false report spread across social media that David Rockefeller had died:

                “At about 11 a.m. ET on Tuesday (April 28, 2015), our beloved business man David Rockefeller passed away. David Rockefeller was born on June 12, 1915 in New York. He will be missed but not forgotten. Please show your sympathy and condolences by commenting on and liking this page.”

                The debate about wealthy people “cutting in line” to receive an organ transplant isn’t a new one. In 2009, Steve Jobs was criticized after he traveled to Tennessee for a liver transplant on short notice, ABC News reports:

                “Jobs couldn’t pay for an organ. Nor could he pay to cut the queue. But what someone with Jobs’ resources could do, according to liver transplant surgeons and ethicists, is to use money and mobility to improve the odds either by going to an area of the country where there are more organ donors, or by signing up at multiple transplant centers.”

                Dick Cheney drew similar criticism when he underwent a heart transplant in 2013.  Cheney had waited on a transplant list for 20 months before the surgery, but some argued that he was too old (71 at the time) to receive a donor’s heart.

                The United Network for Organ Sharing, the non-profit that maintains the nationwide patient waiting list, often considers a patient’s ability to pay for a transplant when deciding where to place an available organ.

                  Freddie Gray Had a Lengthy Arrest Record – Truth!

                  Summary of eRumor:

                  A viral email lists a lengthy arrest record for Freddie Gray, the man who died while in police custody in Baltimore.

                  The Truth:

                  These claims about Freddie Gray’s arrest record are true.

                  The list of Freddie Gray’s run-ins with police in Baltimore was compiled by the website Heavy.com. Gray’s arrest record was then widely circulated in chain emails after his death sparked protests and riots that gained national attention.

                  Many of Freddie Gray’s previous arrests were for drug-related offenses, according to records kept by the Maryland Department of Justice. In the first four months of 2015, Gray had been arrested four times. Those arrests led to charges of possession of a controlled substance, burglary, assault and destruction of property.

                  Freddie Gray died shortly after his last arrest in Baltimore in April 2015. An autopsy revealed that he had broken vertebra. Widespread protests and riots broke out across Baltimore after police didn’t immediately reveal the cause of Freddie Gray’s death, or the reason for his arrest, the Baltimore Sun reports.

                  Police later said that Freddie Gray was arrested on a weapons charge after police found a switchblade knife in his pocket. The six officers involved in the arrest denied that force was used.

                  Freddie Gray had been in and out of prison since 2009. He had more than 20 different criminal cases brought against him in Maryland, according to state records.

                    Couple Sells Princess Diana Beanie Baby for $93,000 – Fiction!

                    Summary of eRumor:

                    A young couple purchased a Princess Diana Beanie Baby for $15 at a flea market in England and sold the rare stuffed animal for $93,000 on eBay.

                    The Truth:

                    Reports that a young couple sold a Princess Diana Beanie Baby on eBay for $93,000 are false.

                    The claim went viral after media outlets in England like the Daily Mail and The Independent reported that Leah Rogers and Ryan Flanaghan had found the rare stuffed bear at a flea market for about $15, and that they hoped to sell it on eBay for $93,000. According to Daily Mail:

                    “As a former collector, Mr Flanaghan, 22, recognised the bear as a limited edition Princess Diana Di Beanie Baby — one of the most sought after in the collection which can be worth thousands of pounds.

                    “But the builder was stunned to find out that the bear was one of just 100 made around the world — and that another version is currently listed on eBay for £62,500.

                    “The pair is now hoping to sell the bear on the auction site and put the money towards a deposit for a house.”

                    It’s important to note that the Daily Mail article said that the couple was hoping to sell the Princess Di Beanie Baby for £62,500 (about $93,000). That’s quite a bit different than actually selling the Princess Di Beanie Baby for $93,000.

                    However, that important detail was lost in translation when many people read the article. The article shows a screenshot of the Princess Di Beanie Baby auction at $93,000 on eBay, but that’s deceiving. It’s easy for eBay users to bid on their own items using a different account to drive up the price, and that appears to be what’s happened here.

                    The Princess Di Beanie Baby has been at the center of controversy before. Problems are so bad that the website Ty Collector (Ty is the company that made billions selling Beanie Babies in the 1990s) has singled out the Princess Di Beanie Baby with a collector’s fraud alert:

                    “From time to time, prices paid by buyers on eBay for the Princess Beanie Baby increase dramatically for a short period of time. This generally happens when a blogger, a personality on a TV show or a news reporter claims Princess is valuable because it is selling for an extremely high price on eBay.

                    “That of course, is an uninformed misrepresentation or sometimes an intentional deception designed to scam potential collectors who do not understand how eBay really works.”

                    “…When we see spikes in the value of Princess Beanie Babies due to events like this, we do not use the outrageously high prices paid for Princess at eBay in our value computations for at least a 60-day period. By then the secondary market has settled sufficiently to resume using all of the prices paid at eBay in our value formulas. During these temporary periods of artificial value hype we focus more on the prices being received by known “honest” collectors and dealers.

                    “The same thing happened in 2013 when an uninformed ‘appraiser’ on a popular television show suggested a Princess Beanie found in an abandoned storage room could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on which version of Princess it happened to be. That incorrect assessment was also based on whatPrincess was being ‘listed’ for on eBay instead of the true indicator; the prices buyers actually ‘PAY’ for Princess on eBay.

                    “Buyers beware. We would gladly and immediately notify collectors if something transpired that would cause a dramatic increase in the value of a Princess Beanie Baby. It would of course have to be something like a P.V.C.-eating virus that is destroying all of the Princess Beanies in the world that were not protected in sealed plastic containers; but short of something remarkable like that, it isn’t likely the true value of the Princess Beanie Baby will be skyrocketing any time soon — or in our lifetimes for that matter.”

                    So, what’s the big deal about the Princess Di Beanie Baby? The Beanie Baby, a purple bear with a white rose sewn on its chest, was sold after Princess Diana’s death in 1997 to raise money for the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund. A tag that comes with the Princess Di Beanie Baby includes a poem that calls the fallen princess an “angel.”

                    Confusion about the Princess Di Beanie Baby started almost immediately after it was released in 1997, Ty Collector reports:

                    “Ty introduced Princess on October 29, 1997. In November 1997, Ty informed U.S. retailers they could only order 12 Princess Beanie Babies for delivery in December. This restriction caused many collectors and retailers to believe Princess would be a limited edition. The ‘limited edition’ rumors caused a buying frenzy when Princess first shipped in December 1997.

                    “Collector and speculator demand immediately drove the secondary market price for a Princess Beanie Baby to well over $200. When a different version of the Princess tush tag appeared, speculation about the variations caused even more confusion about Princess.

                    “Much of the ’true’ production history for the Princess Beanie Baby is still a mystery. New collectors are misled into believing Princess is valuable by uninformed, dishonest or deluded sellers on eBay who frequently attempt to sell or auction Princess for prices ranging from hundreds to millions of dollars.”

                    Claims that Princess Di Beanie Babies are worth millions of dollars (or even hundreds of dollars) are totally false. Ty Collector reports that “first edition” Princess Di Beanie Babies that were made in China are worth about $27, and “first edition” Princess Di Beanie Babies that were made in Indonesia are worth about $47.

                    Long story short, no Beanie Baby is worth $93,000.Princess-Di-Beanie-Baby

                      FDA Finds Human Urine in Arizona Iced Tea-Fiction!

                      Summary of eRumor:

                      The FDA has discovered that the makers of Arizona Iced Tea add human urine to their products.

                      The Truth:

                      A fake news website started the false report that Arizona Iced Tea contains human urine.

                      The fake news website Huzlers first reported that the FDA had exposed the Arizona Beverage Company adding human urine to its products:

                      “Upon being unexpectedly inspected a few days ago, FDA inspectors visited five of Arizona’s biggest factories in the United States and what they discovered was shocking. They discovered thousands and thousands of gallons of large industrial containers containing human urine. But what was the urine doing in an Arizona tea factory? According to the FDA, urine has been suspected to be used in Arizona products for years and it is what gives it its signature flavor, surprisingly. About 6% of Arizona cans are made up of human urine.”

                      Huzlers describes the website’s content as “bad fake news poorly written.” Nevertheless, social media users spread its false report that human urine had been found in the Arizona Beverage Company’s products.

                      One Facebook user commented: “I’ve contacted (Arizona) multiple times with no answer regarding my issue. I will be pursuing a lawsuit for the urine in the bottles. I am not waiting any longer. You guys messed with the wrong customer. My lawyer will be contacting the company by the end of the week.”

                      Arizona responded: “The rumor you’re referring to is not true. The site that it originated on is a self-proclaimed ‘notorious urban satirical entertainment website with the most shocking headlines and articles.”