FBI Spills Water on San Bernardino Shooter’s iPhone-Fiction!

FBI Spills Water on San Bernardino Shooter’s iPhone-Fiction!

Summary of eRumor:
Claims that after successfully unlocking one of the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhones the FBI spilled water on it, rendering it useless, have gone viral.
The Truth:
A rumor that the FBI spilled water on a San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone started with a satirical report published by the New Yorker.
An article that appeared under the headline, “Unlocked iPhone Worthless After FBI Spills Glass of Water on it,” satirical writer Andy Borowitz wrote:

WASHINGTON (Satire from The Borowitz Report)—Moments after successfully unlocking the San Bernardino iPhone, the F.B.I. rendered the phone permanently useless by spilling a glass of water on it, an F.B.I. spokesman confirmed on Tuesday.

Calling the accident “one of the biggest embarrassments in F.B.I. history,” bureau spokesman Harland Dorrinson told reporters, “There’s no way to express how bad we feel about what happened to that phone.”

Walking reporters through the mishap, Dorrinson said that shortly after the iPhone was unlocked, “There were a lot of high-fives, which led to the unfortunate spilling of the water.”

Because the story appeared in the New Yorker, which is generally regarded as a reputable news source, many on social media mistook satire for an actual news report. However, the article plays off the public’s perception that the FBI was less than competent in recovering information from the iPhone.