TruthorFiction.com Seeking truth, exposing fiction 2018-04-20T20:53:21Z https://www.truthorfiction.com/feed/atom/ WordPress Truthorfiction.com <![CDATA[California Bill Would Ban the Bible-Disputed]]> https://www.truthorfiction.com/?p=106927 2018-04-20T20:53:21Z 2018-04-20T20:53:21Z Disputed claims that a California bill would ban the Bible are based on vague language in a bill that would expand the state's prohibition on gay conversion therapy.

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California Bill Would Ban the Bible-Disputed!

Summary of eRumor:

A California bill banning gay conversion therapy on all citizens would essentially ban the Bible.

The Truth:

California Assembly Bill 2943 aims to ban the advertising or sale of gay conversion therapy as a commercial service. The bill’s purpose isn’t to “ban the Bible.” But unclear language has led to questions about how much it could restrict commercial speech, and claims that it would ban the Bible.

Those questions came to a head in an exchange an One America News Network (OANN). “Tipping Point” host Liz Wheeler asked California state Rep. Travis Allen, a Republican from Orange County, if AB 2943 would “essentially criminalize religious beliefs” and “would this prohibit the sale of the Bible.” Allen replied, “Literally, according to how this law is written, yes, it would.” But it’s not clear if that’s the case or not.

First, we’ll back up to provide a little context. AB 2943 would expand a standing California law that bans the use of “sexual orientation change efforts” for children. Adopted in 2012, Senate Bill 1172 banned “sexual orientation change efforts” and “any practices by mental health providers that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation, including efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.”

AB 2943 would go a step further. It would extend the ban to “all persons, regardless of age.” It would also prohibit gay conversion therapy as a commercial service. And, most controversially, it would prohibit the “advertising and offering” of sexual orientation change efforts. The advertising provision, Allen and other critics argue, could lead to a ban the Bible.

Again, the bill doesn’t name or single out the Bible. It’s purpose isn’t to ban it. Even Allen appears to acknowledge this by uttering the qualifier “according to how this law is written” before making that claim. And a legislative analysis cites provisions of the law that are “somewhat unclear” in terms of how it would impact commercial speech, according to a document produced by the Assembly Judiciary Committee:

The analysis suggests that the author may wish to clarify, perhaps in one or more other code sections, that SOCE itself is unlawful. If that were the case, then the bill’s proposed amendments to prohibit advertising or offering SOCE, would be even more closely tailored to the bill’s goals and there would be an even stronger argument that the bill does not restrict commercial speech in an unconstitutional manner.

Given uncertainty about the true impact of the law, we’re calling claims that a California bill would ban the Bible “disputed.”

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Truthorfiction.com <![CDATA[Did 233 Representatives Vote to Steal Social Security’s $2.9 Trillion Surplus?-Truth & Outdated!]]> https://www.truthorfiction.com/?p=106924 2018-04-19T20:31:22Z 2018-04-19T20:31:22Z It's true that 233 members of Congress supported a bill that would have stripped Social Security's $2.9 trillion surplus, but the measure failed.

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Did 233 Representatives Vote to Steal Social Security’s $2.9 Trillion Surplus?-Truth! & Outdated!

Summary of eRumor:

A balanced budget amendment supported by 233 members of Congress would steal Social Security’s $2.9 trillion surplus, and doom Medicare to failure.

The Truth:

The U.S. House of Representatives considered a balanced budget amendment in April 2018 that would have posed “serious risks” to Social Security and Medicare. Although 233 lawmakers voted for the measure, however, it failed. As a constitutional amendment, it required a two-thirds majority vote to pass — not a simple majority.

The balanced budget amendment, H.J. Res. 2, was introduced by U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) in January 2017. After the GOP majority approved tax reforms in December 2017 that would add $2 trillion to the federal deficit over 10 years stoked anger among the party’s conservative base, there was a congressional push for a vote on the balanced budget amendment. It failed on a vote of 233-184 on April 12, 2018.

Would the Balanced Budget Amendment Steal Social Security’s Surplus?

Reports that “233 members of Congress just voted to steal Social Security’s $2.9 trillion surplus” circulated after the April 12 vote. Social Security Works, a nonprofit group dedicated to protecting Social Security, led the charge with an infographic that went viral on social media. It’s somewhat misleading because it doesn’t make clear that the balanced budget amendment failed despite gaining 233 votes. A simple majority requires only 218 votes).

It’s true that 233 representatives supported a measure that would “steal” Social Security’s $2.9 trillion surplus, but the measure failed.

So, if the balanced budget amendment would have passed, would it have stolen Social Security’s surplus that’s set aside for retiring baby boomers? The short answer is yes. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities sums up the situation like this:

Currently, Social Security holds $2.9 trillion in Treasury securities.  But under the balanced budget amendment, it would essentially be unconstitutional for Social Security to draw down these savings to pay promised benefits.  Instead, benefits could have to be cut, because all federal expenditures would have to be covered by tax revenues collected during that same year.  More precisely, Social Security would be allowed to use its accumulated Treasury securities to help pay benefits only if the rest of the federal budget ran an offsetting surplus (or if the House and Senate each mustered three-fifths or two-thirds votes to permit deficits).

The same would be true for Medicare Part A. Currently, the program carries a $200 billion surplus. Under a balanced budget amendment, however, it would be deemed “unconstitutional” for Medicare to use the surplus because all federal expenditure would have to come from taxes collected in the same year, the Center on Budget Policy Priorities explains.

So, although 233 members of Congress supported a balanced budget amendment that would have “stolen” Social Security’s surplus, the measure failed. That’s why we’re calling this one “truth” and “outdated.”

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Truthorfiction.com <![CDATA[Mark Zuckerberg Announces He’s Closing Facebook-Fiction!]]> https://www.truthorfiction.com/?p=106916 2018-04-18T19:43:51Z 2018-04-18T19:43:51Z False claims that Mark Zuckerberg is closing Facebook are based on an edited video that its creator labeled "satire."

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Mark Zuckerberg Announces He’s Closing Facebook-Fiction!

Summary of eRumor:

Mark Zuckerberg has announced that he’s closing Facebook, citing concerns about the social media platform’s impact on the world.

The Truth:

False claims that Mark Zuckerberg is closing Facebook came from a digitally-manipulated video that’s part of an April Fool hoax/guerrilla advertising campaign for a creative agency and video production company.

Bayview Drive Films posted the video on Youtube on April 1. Appearing under the headline “A World Without Facebook,” Zuckerberg stares into the camera and states that he’s closing Facebook. The reason? It causes feelings of isolation and loneliness and has led to the proliferation of fake news.

The video immediately looks suspicious. Zuckerberg’s mouth doesn’t align with the rest of his face. And after the opening address, the video quickly cuts away to scenes of people staring at their phones (presumably watching the video). But given that video manipulation is relatively new, many viewers were caught off guard — some even believing it to be true.

That’s not the case, however. The video actually shows Zuckerberg’s September 21, 2017, response to reports that Russia used Facebook to meddle in the 2016 presidential election. And, no, Zuckerberg didn’t say that he was going to close Facebook in the actual video, either. And viewers who watch the video all the way through will notice a disclaimer that appears at the end calling it “satire”

False claims that Mark Zuckerberg is closing Facebook are based on a video labeled “satire” by its creator.

Given all that, we’re calling claims that Mark Zuckerberg is closing Facebook “fiction.”

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Truthorfiction.com <![CDATA[Attorney Lisa Barsoomian Represents Hillary Clinton, Married to Rod Rosenstein -Fiction!]]> https://www.truthorfiction.com/?p=106910 2018-04-17T20:57:42Z 2018-04-17T20:54:55Z Attorney Lisa Barsoomian Represents Hillary Clinton, Married to Rod Rosenstein-Fiction! Summary of eRumor: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s wife, attorney Lisa Barsoomian, has represented Bill and Hillary Clinton for decades.…

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Attorney Lisa Barsoomian Represents Hillary Clinton, Married to Rod Rosenstein-Fiction!

Summary of eRumor:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s wife, attorney Lisa Barsoomian, has represented Bill and Hillary Clinton for decades. That makes Rosenstein’s appointment of Robert S. Mueller III as special counsel a deep state conspiracy.

The Truth:

Rod Rosenstein and Lisa Barsoomian are, in fact, married. But Barsoomian has never served as a personal attorney to the Clintons. As a former assistant U.S. attorney, Barsoomian regularly represented U.S. interests in civil cases. But she has never personally represented the Clintons.

These rumors can be traced back to Roger Stone. The long-time political operative and unofficial advisor to President Donald Trump’s campaign has himself become embroiled in Robert S. Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Trump campaign advisor Sam Nunberg said in April 2018 that Mueller questioned him about a supposed meeting between Stone and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. So, Stone has a personal stake in Mueller’s probe.

False claims that Lisa Barsoomian represents the Clintons misrepresent the role U.S. attorneys plan in civil litigation involving the federal government.

In June 2017, Roger Stone posted a column detailing a supposed web of conspiracy connecting Mueller, Rosenstein and Comey — “the three amigos from the deep state” — to undermine Trump’s presidency. Stone reported that Rosenstein’s wife, Lisa Barsoomian, and “her boss” R. Craig Lawrence have represented Mueller and the Clintons many times over the last three decades. That, Stone argues, signals deep-state collusion:

Lisa Barsoomian works for R. Craig Lawrence, an attorney who has represented Robert Mueller three times, James Comey five times, Barack Obama forty-five times, Kathleen Sebellius fifty-six times, Bill Clinton forty times, and Hillary Clinton seventeen times between 1991 and 2017.

Barsoomian participated in some of this work personally and has herself represented the FBI at least five separate times.  It would be great to research the specifics of the cases she worked in, many of the documents from the Court Docket relating to these cases have been removed from the D.C. District and Appeals Court, including her representation for Clinton in 1998’s case Hamburg. V. Clinton.

But the implication that Lisa Barsoomian represents the Clintons is false. Barsoomian currently serves as a lawyer at the National Institutes of Health. Before that, she served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. In that role, Barsoomian often represented interests of the United States government in civil litigation. But, again, it’s important to note that she she didn’t represent individual parties in those cases. She represented the interests of the United States.

In one example, Barsoomian was listed as an attorney in the 2002 case Judicial Watch, Inc. v. FBI. Although Robert S. Mueller served as FBI director at the time, Barsoomian didn’t represent Mueller personally. Rather, as a footnote in the case notes, “defendant correctly notes that the proper defendant under the Freedom of Information Act is the United States Department of Justice,” and not the FBI or Mueller himself. There are many such examples of Barsoomian representing the office of presidency or various agencies in civil cases However, she has never personally represented the Clintons, Mueller or Comey.

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Truthorfiction.com <![CDATA[Obamacare Article 54 Goes into Effect May 1, Will Divert 30% of Social Security-Fiction!]]> https://www.truthorfiction.com/?p=106907 2018-04-16T20:59:39Z 2018-04-16T20:59:39Z A Facebook group that posts fabricated reports is behind false reports that Obamacare Article 54 takes effect on May 1, 2018, diverting 30 percent of Social Security benefits to "the undocumented."

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Obamacare Article 54 Goes into Effect May 1, Will Divert 30% of Social Security-Fiction!

Summary of eRumor:

Article 54 of Obamacare will go into effect on May 1, 2018. The provision will divert 30 percent of all Social Security payments to providing insurance for the undocumented.

The Truth:

“Article 54” doesn’t appear anywhere in the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. The bill doesn’t provide insurance for undocumented immigrants, and it doesn’t divert 30 percent of Social Security benefits.

Those rumors started with a meme that began making the rounds on social media in April 2018. It shows a photo of President Obama and states, “On May 1st, 2018, Article 54 of Obamacare will take effect. Anyone over 60 will have 30 percent of their Social Security diverted to funding for insurance for the undocumented.”

False claims that Obamacare's Article 54 takes effect on May 1 circulated on social media.

False claims that Obamacare’s Article 54 takes effect on May 1 circulated on social media.

The meme appeared at the Facebook community page “America — Love it Or Leave It” on April 14. It was quickly shared more than 25,000 times, sparking outrage and suspicion among readers about the authenticity of its claims. And rightly so. The group’s “about” page states “Nothing on this page is real.” And neither are claims that Obamacare’s Article 54 goes into effect on May 1, 2018.

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Truthorfiction.com <![CDATA[‘Mutant’ Tilapia Fish is Unsafe to Eat, Contains Cancer-Causing Dioxin-Mostly Fiction!]]> https://www.truthorfiction.com/?p=106903 2018-04-13T01:00:55Z 2018-04-13T01:00:55Z Warnings that tilapia is unsafe to eat have been circulating for years, but they're either completely false or mostly false.

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‘Mutant’ Tilapia Fish is Unsafe to Eat, Contains Cancer-Causing Dioxin-Mostly Fiction!

Summary of eRumor:

A meme claiming that tilapia is a “mutant” fish that’s unsafe to eat combines a number of long-running warnings about the fish.

The Truth:

Warnings that tilapia is unsafe to eat have been circulating for years. There are warnings that tilapia is a “mutant” fish that doesn’t have skin or bones. There are warnings that tilapia don’t exist in the wild. There are warnings that eating tilapia is worse than eating bacon or hamburger. And there are warnings that tilapia causes cancer. None of them are true. 

There are various sources of these rumors. But they were all consolidated into a meme that first went viral in 2017 and resurfaced in April 2018. Without citing sources, the meme repeated old (and untrue) rumors that tilapia is unsafe to eat. 

Claims that tilapia is unsafe to eat have been circulating for years, but they’re false.

We’ll take a look at each of these claims. We’ll also provide a little background on tilapia, where it came from, and why it’s grown in popularity over the last 20 years.

Tilapia Are Boneless and Skinless-Fiction!

It’s not clear where rumors that tilapia are boneless, skinless and can’t be overcooked originated. But there’s not truth to them. Just looking a photo of tilapia makes clear that it has skin and scales like other freshwater fish.

And, just like other freshwater fish, tilapia filets have to be cut away from bones inside the fish’s body. There are countless “how to filet tilapia” videos on YouTube that all disprove claims that tilapia are boneless.

Tilapia Are Mutants, Can’t Be Found in the Wild-Fiction!

Tilapia are native to Africa and date at least back to the Egyptian period. In fact, tilapia are even featured in ancient Egyptian art, often portraying a symbol of rebirth. So, again, the idea that tilapia are mutants and can’t be found in the wild are baseless.

These claims are probably based on the widespread introduction of tilapia into aquaculture in the 1980s. After that point, tilapia was widely farmed in cages and open bodies of water. That helped tilapia go from “unknown in the U.S. in the mid-1990s to the fifth most popular seafood we eat,” the Atlantic reports. The rise of tilapia coincided with the fall of Northeast cod fishery in the 1990s.

So, while the tilapia sold in restaurants and grocery stores is most likely the result of aquaculture — claims that tilapia is a “mutant” fish don’t check out.

Eating Tilapia Worse that Eating Bacon or Hamburger-Mostly Fiction!

Claims that eating tilapia is worse that eating bacon or hamburger have persisted for years — but experts counter that there’s no truth to them.

They can be traced back to a 2008 study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. The study warns that tilapia isn’t a good food for controlling inflammatory diseases like heart disease. It’s authors continued: “All other nutritional content aside, the inflammatory potential of hamburger and pork bacon is lower than the average serving of farmed tilapia.”

Many websites seized on the claims. The popular diet franchise “Eat This, Not That!” warned that tilapia has a fraction of the beneficial omega-3 fatty acids as salmon and other fish, and has “sky high” levels of unhealthy omega-6 fats. It’s conclusion? Tilapia is worse than bacon or hamburger.

Scientists quickly pushed back. Dr. William Harris, a senior scientist and director of the metabolism and nutrition at the nonprofit Sanford Research Center, noted that “most health experts (including organizations such as the American Heart Association and the American Dietetic Association) agree that omega-5 fatty acids are, in fact, heart healthy:

Tilapia and catfish are examples of lower-fat fish that have fewer omega-3s than the oily fish listed above, but still provide more of these heart-healthy nutrients than hamburger, steak, chicken, pork or turkey. Actually, a 3 ounce serving of these fish provides over 100 mg of the long chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Considering that this is about the current daily intake of these fatty acids in the US, even these fish should be considered better choices than most other meat alternatives. Since they are also relatively low in total and saturated fats and high in protein, they clearly can be part of a healthy diet.

Researchers at Harvard sounded a similar tune, debunking the idea that tilapia is worse than bacon or hamburger.

Tilapia Contains Cancer-Causing Dioxin-Mostly Fiction!

Dioxins are some of the most toxic substances on earth, and they have been linked to cancer. And it’s true that “more than 90 percent of human exposure” to dioxins comes from food. It’s stored in fat tissue and can accumulate throughout the food chain, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports.

But tilapia don’t appear to be at a higher risk for containing dioxins than any other fish. In fact, because tilapia are often farmed and not caught in the wild, their dioxin levels could actually be lower than levels in other species of fish. So, again, claims that tilapia contain cancer-causing dioxin are mostly fiction. It’s possible, but there’s no elevated risk.

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Truthorfiction.com <![CDATA[Principal Muhammad al-Salad Forced Halal Menu on West Virginia Elementary Students-Fiction!]]> https://www.truthorfiction.com/?p=106898 2018-04-11T21:33:18Z 2018-04-11T21:22:10Z False claims that Principal Muhammad al-Salad forced a halal menu on West Virginia Elementary Students came from a "satirical" website.

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Principal Muhammad al-Salad Forced Halal Menu on West Virginia Elementary Students-Fiction!

Summary of eRumor:

Muhammad al-Salad, the principal of Pratchett-Kline Elementary School in Bluefield, West Virginia, forced a halal menu on students as “a matter of inclusion.”

The Truth:

There’s no truth to rumors that Principal Muhammad al-Salad forced a halal menu on West Virginia elementary school students. That rumor started with America’s Last Line of Defense, a “satirical” website known for misleading readers.

The man pictured in the meme is not Muhammad al-Salad (a name that includes an obvious food pun). Rather, it’s former al-Qaeda recruiter Jesse Morton. He spent time in federal prison for recruiting extremists through his Brooklyn-based website Revolution Muslim. Morton later became an FBI informant — but he ran into legal troubles again in January 2017 when he was charged with drug and prostitution charges.

False claims that Principal Muhammad al-Salad forced a halal menu on West Virginia Elementary Students came from a “satirical” website.

The meme originated at America’s Last Line of Defense. The website describes its content as “satire,” but readers often mistake it for factual news. There have been similar false rumors over the years, too. Claims that a Quebec mayor refused to remove pork from schools there has been heavily trafficked over the years.

The rumor builds on an earlier false report that Pratchett-Kline Elementary School in Blue Field, West Virginia, hired a Muslim principal. The story goes that the principal said “Sharia is and will be the law.” Turns out there is no Pratchett-Kline Elementary School in Blue Field. Both of these rumors are false.

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Truthorfiction.com <![CDATA[Communist Rules for Revolution Found By Allied Forces in Dusseldorf Germany-Fiction!]]> https://www.truthorfiction.com/?p=106894 2018-04-10T20:58:11Z 2018-04-10T20:58:11Z The Communist Rules for Revolution date back to at least the 1940s, but there's never been any proof to support claims that Allied Forces found the rules in Germany in 1919.

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Communist Rules for Revolution Found By Allied Forces in Dusseldorf Germany-Fiction!

Summary of eRumor:

Allied Forces discovered the “Communist Rules for Revolution” in Dusseldorf, Germany, in 1919 and many of these tactics remain in play nearly 100 years later.

The Truth:

The earliest accounts of the Communist Rules for Revolution appear to date back to 1940s. However, there’s no credible evidence to support claims that Allied intelligence officers found the “rules” in Dusseldorf, Germany, in 1919.

The Communist Rules for Revolution outline a strategy to lead communist revolution by “corrupting” a country’s youth. That means enticing them away from religion, distracting them from their government, destroying their faith in leaders, and dividing them into hostile groups, among other tactics. It’s not clear that communist groups have ever used these tactics — but it is clear that the backstory attached to the “rules” doesn’t check out.

The Communist Rules for Revolution has been circulating since the 1940s, but it’s source has never been authenticated.

A nondenominational revivalistic movement known as Moral Re-Armament (MRA) started the rumor in the 1940s. MRA published the Communist Rules for Revolution in the February 1946 issue of its newsletter, New World News. That’s according to the book, “The Hoaxers,” published by Morris Kominsky in 1970.  Britannica summarizes MRA, which fizzled in the 1960s, as having “much interest in converting the influential and the rich and steadfastly opposed communism. Its theology was simple and conservative.”

The rules for revolution commentary has persisted for decades. And, in July 1970, the New York Times concluded that the “rules” were a “durable fraud.” The report, which can be found archived by the CIA, concludes that the “rules” rose to prominence in 1954 thanks to George A. Brautigam, a Florida State Attorney for Dade County. He wrote, “the above rules for revolution were secured by the state attorney’s office from a known member of the Communist party, who acknowledged it to he still a part of the Communist program for overthrowing our government.” After Brautigam died in 1957, his successor said he hadn’t been able to find a source for the “rules.”

U.S. Senator Lee Metcalf, a Democrat from Montana, launched an investigation and concluded that the Rules for Revolution were “completely spurious.” The New York Times reports:

“The extreme right wing in America also follows rules,” he said earlier in placing his findings in The Congressional Record, “and one of these rules is to make maximum use of false, misleading and fear inspiring quotations.”

He checked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Library of Congress and the Internal Security Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and none could authenticate the “rules.”

Additionally, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover testified that no source could be found, and “therefore we can logically speculate that this document is spurious.”

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Truthorfiction.com <![CDATA[President Trump: Community College is 13th Grade, Not Real College -Fiction!]]> https://www.truthorfiction.com/?p=106891 2018-04-06T19:16:26Z 2018-04-06T19:16:26Z President Trump: Community College is 13th Grade, Not Real College –Fiction! Summary of eRumor: A tweet from President Trump calls community college 13th grade and asserts it’s not real college…

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President Trump: Community College is 13th Grade, Not Real College –Fiction!

Summary of eRumor:

A tweet from President Trump calls community college 13th grade and asserts it’s not real college and is for dummies.

The Truth:

President Trump didn’t call community college “13th grade” or say that it was “only for dummies.”

That rumor spread in a screen shot of a tweet that allegedly came from the president’s personal twitter handle. The tweet reads: “Community college, call it vocational and technical school. People know what that means. They don’t know what community college means. Maybe call it 13th grade, that’s more like it. Community college makes it sound like it’s real college and it’s not. It’s only for dummys.”

President Trump didn’t say community college is like 13th grade, but the president does take issue with the name “community college.”

It’s easy to photoshop or manipulate tweets that appear to show politicians saying ignorant or outrageous things. This appears to be one of those cases. The tweet doesn’t appear in the president’s timeline. It’s also absent from the “Politiwoops” archive of deleted political tweets run by ProPublica.

And this tweet is especially misleading because it begins with a quote that actually came from the president. During a March 30, 2018, stop in Pennsylvania, the president said, “I don’t know what that means, a community college. Call it vocational and technical. People know what that means. They don’t know what a community college means.”

Trump also raised eyebrows when he made a similar comment during the “Generation Next” White House forum earlier in the month. He referenced a friend who could fix engines but was “not going to be Einstein academically.” The president continued, “But he’ll never be a student, nor did he want that kind of learning, that kind of whatever you want to call it. So we need vocational schools. Now, they call them, a lot of times, community colleges. I don’t think that’s an accurate definition.”

So, Trump didn’t say that community colleges are like “13th grade” or are for dummies. But he has taken issue with the name “community colleges,” preferring vocational and technical college instead.

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Truthorfiction.com <![CDATA[Facebook Users Entitled to $17,500 for Facebook Data Leak-Mostly Fiction!]]> https://www.truthorfiction.com/?p=106888 2018-04-06T18:52:57Z 2018-04-06T18:52:57Z Facebook Users Entitled to $17,500 for Facebook Data Leak-Mostly Fiction! Summary of eRumor: As fallout mounted from revelations that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica obtained unauthorized access to 87 million…

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Facebook Users Entitled to $17,500 for Facebook Data Leak-Mostly Fiction!

Summary of eRumor:

As fallout mounted from revelations that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica obtained unauthorized access to 87 million Facebook users’ personal data, rumors spread that affected Facebook users are entitled to $17,500 in damages.

The Truth:

A number of class-action lawsuits have been filed in the wake of the Facebook data leak. It remains to be seen if damages will be awarded in those cases. But claims that Facebook users are entitled to $17,500 were false as of April 2018.

Those claims have been widely circulated on social media. Most accounts cite comments made by law professor Maureen Mapp’s in an interview with British-based The Sun. Mapp argued that each Facebook user in the U.K. could be entitled to £12,500 in damages ($1,760) under the Data Protection Act of 1998. Another legal scholar quoted in the article said a “more likely outcome” would be U.K. Facebook users being awarded £500 each under the law. Either way, both assertions are speculation at this point. And neither scenario would apply to Facebook users outside the U.K.

False claims that Facebook users are entitled to $17,500 in damages cite a U.K. law that wouldn’t apply to Americans.

Still, rumors that Facebook users could be entitled to $17,500 in damages because of the data breach spread across social media in April 2018. These accounts (falsely) claimed that, with 2 billion users, Facebook would be on the hook for about $10 billion. However, the U.K.’s Data Protection Act doesn’t apply to all Facebook users. And it’s not clear that even U.K. Facebook users will be entitled to damages.

 

But two San Diego-based law firms are leading a class action lawsuit in response to the data leak. Coastal Law Group and Blood, Hurst & O’Reardon are leading the case. Jordan O’Hara, a San Diego native and Navy veteran, is the lead plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit, the San Diego Tribune reports:

The lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles federal court Wednesday, one of several that have been filed around the country on similar claims.

The lawsuit accuses Facebook of failing to protect the personal information of its users, despite assurances on its site that users “own all of the content and information” they post on Facebook, and that users “can control how it is shared” by using the platform’s privacy settings.

“This is false and misleading,” the lawsuit argues.

The fate of the class-action lawsuit is unknown at this point. Facebook users who want to learn more about it can contact Coastal Law Group group directly. Because Facebook users aren’t entitled to $17,500 at this point, but it’s unclear if damages will be rewarded in the future, we’re calling this rumor “mostly fiction.”

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