June 25, 2020

PolitiFact and MediaWise are teaming up to debunk misinformation about the coronavirus crisis. To have Coronavirus Facts delivered to your inbox Monday-Friday, click here.

On the same day U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez faced — and defeated — a primary challenger, a fake tweet from the New York congresswoman went viral.

Actor James Woods was among those who shared a screenshot purporting to show a deleted Ocasio-Cortez tweet about keeping businesses closed to disrupt President Donald Trump’s reelection. She never tweeted that.

It looks like she did, though, in an image being shared on Facebook. “She deleted it but not before it was shared over 20,000 times,” reads a description of the tweet.

The tweet itself says: “It’s vital that Governors (sic) maintain restrictions on businesses until after the November Elections because economic recovery will help Trump be re-elected. A few business closures or job losses is a small price to pay to be free from his presidency. #KeepUsClosed.” The post in the image is dated May 20, 2020.

PolitiFact found no evidence that Ocasio-Cortez tweeted this. We rate this post Pants on Fire.

Click here to read the full fact-check.

MediaWise debuts fact-checking program for older Americans

The MediaWise program has expanded beyond teens and college students to older Americans, teaching America’s 50-and-up population key digital literacy and fact-checking skills to ensure they make decisions based on fact and not fiction. Former “Good Morning America” anchor Joan Lunden and CNN chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour are the first ambassadors that will help MediaWise with online training and promotion for the new program. Learn more»

Trump wrongly claims Biden wants to prosecute churchgoers

Contrary to a claim from President Trump, PolitiFact found no statements from Joe Biden or other leading Democrats suggesting that they want to prosecute churchgoers during the coronavirus pandemic, but not people who set churches on fire. Read the fact-check»

Lateral reading helps debunk false COVID-19 posts

The Stanford History Education Group has plenty of tips for fact-checking coronavirus claims in its Civic Online Reasoning curriculum. Arguably the most powerful is using lateral reading to find out more about a source. If you see a suspect post, open new tabs and search for more information about who shared it. Check it out»

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Alex Mahadevan is a senior multimedia reporter at MediaWise. He can be reached at amahadevan@poynter.org or on Twitter at @AlexMahadevan. Follow MediaWise on TikTok.

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Alex Mahadevan is senior multimedia reporter with the MediaWise project. He most recently worked as a data journalist at the personal finance startup The Penny…
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