December 17, 2021

A longstanding conspiracy theory about the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks has resurfaced on social media.

A widely shared Instagram post claims that a video from British public broadcaster BBC shows that the network was part of a 9/11 conspiracy.

The post says, “An astounding video uncovered from the BBC archives showed that BBC reported the collapse of WTC Building 7 over 20 minutes before it fell at 5:20 p.m. on the afternoon of the 9/11 attacks. The incredible footage shows BBC reporter Jane Stanley talking about the collapse of the Salomon Brothers building while it remains standing in the live shot behind her. Shortly after this ‘reporting error,’ BBC cut the interview short.”

The caption says, “Many inconsistencies with the events which unfolded on 9/11. This was one of them!” Hashtags include #911insidejob and #conspiracytheory.

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

BBC did report the collapse of Building 7 before it actually occurred, but not because the network had inside information or was intentionally misleading the audience. BBC relied on an incorrect report from Reuters that said the building had collapsed, for which Reuters later issued a correction, according to a BBC story published on the 20-year anniversary of the terrorist attack.

Because of persistent theories that the BBC was “actively participating in some sort of attempt to manipulate the audience,” BBC editor Richard Porter addressed the false theory in two 2007 blog posts.

The scene on 9/11 was chaotic, and BBC staff “were talking directly to the emergency services and monitoring local and national media… and there was a fairly consistent picture being painted of Building 7 in danger of collapse,” Porter wrote.

The 47-story office building was on fire for seven hours before collapsing at 5:20 p.m., according to an investigative report from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The fires were caused by debris from the collapse of 1 World Trade Center, the North Tower.

Beginning around 4:15 p.m., CNN and other American networks were reporting that Building 7 had collapsed or was collapsing, according to Porter’s blog post.

The reporter named in the Instagram post, Jane Standley — whose last name is misspelled in the post — “doesn’t remember minute-by-minute what she said or did — like everybody else that day she was trying to make sense of what she was seeing; what she was being told; and what was being told to her by colleagues in London who were monitoring feeds and wires services,” BBC editor Porter wrote.

Porter concluded, “If we reported the building had collapsed before it had done so, it would have been an error — no more than that.”

Our ruling

An Instagram post says a BBC video shows that the network was part of a 9/11 conspiracy.

BBC reported the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 before it actually occurred. The network relied on an incorrect report from Reuters, for which Reuters later issued a correction.

The building was on fire for seven hours and authorities consistently said it was in danger of collapse.

There is no evidence that this reporting was part of a conspiracy.  We rate the claim False.

This fact check was originally published by PolitiFact, which is part of the Poynter Institute. It is republished here with permission. See the sources for this fact check here and more of their fact checks here.

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Monique Curet is a contributing writer for PolitiFact. She has worked as a reporter covering business, agribusiness, medicine and police at The Columbus Dispatch and…
Monique Curet

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