On December 6 2020, news broke that Rudy Giuliani — the former New York City mayor, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, and post-election spectacle — tested positive for COVID-19.
Almost immediately, screenshots of a purported tweet by Giuliani indicating the virus was spread by “having sex with barnyard animals” began to pop up:
In a screenshot dated 7:24 PM on October 20 2020, Giuliani purportedly said:
I think it’s highly likely that all these people that have contracted the China Virus got it from having sex with barnyard animals.
However, of immediate note was the fact that the purported tweet spread in screenshot form, rather than as a retweet. Not all screenshots of tweets are fake, but existing tweets can be retweeted, leading back to the original tweet and eliminating questions about their veracity.
On December 7 2020, the screenshot was shared to Imgur in a post titled “Baaaaaaa …..” At 9:23 PM on December 6 2020, Giuliani published a tweet thanking followers for “prayers and kind wishes” with respect to his recent diagnosis:
Twitter user Tomi Ahonen shared what appeared to be the most prominent version of that screenshot, stating in replies that they believed the image to be “a hoax.” Ahonen responded to a question about whether the tweet was real, speculating that if had Giuliani had actually published the tweet, he would have deleted it after news of his infection appeared on December 6 2020:
“I do believe the original image of the Tweet is a hoax. I searched Twitter for around 20 October, and didn’t find any mention of Giuliani’s comments related to barnyard animals – and there would have been plenty. So I think this is just a joke/hoax – but I’ll leave it 🙂
“Am not sure. I looked for it in Giuliani’s TW feed, it is not there, but he would have most def deleted it.”
Ahonen later said:
“is likely a fake Tweet”
A search on Twitter for the phrase “having sex with barnyard animals” returned no results dated prior to December 6 2020, even with Giuliani’s name excluded from the search. Had Giuliani published the tweet in October 2020 (or at any time during the 2020 pandemic) it would likely have been noteworthy — but a Google search for “Rudy Giuliani” and “barnyard animals” for results between January 1 and December 5 2020 returned no evidence that this particular tweet ever existed.
Following news of his testing positive for COVID-19, a tweet attributed to Rudy Giuliani reading “”I think it’s highly likely that all these people that have contracted the China Virus got it from having sex with barnyard animals” circulated as a screenshot form on Twitter. It was fake, however, and it did not appear to exist in any other form or prior to news of Giuliani’s diagnosis on December 6 2020.