We may have all seen the “Florida man” make his way onto our social media platforms. And each account of his exploits are often more bizarre than the last.
But as amusing as these anecdotes are, they’re not always true.
“Florida man on drugs kills imaginary friend and turns himself in,” read a May 30 Facebook post. The purported headline ran alongside an image of a glossy-eyed man, furrowing his eyebrows and pouting his lip.
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.)
The Facebook post seemed to derive its headline and mugshot from an article that appeared on Moron.com, a parody news site, in 2015. The story, which listed “MORON” as its author, provided further information on the facetious crime.
It said, in part, that a man named Geoff Gaylord stabbed his imaginary friend repeatedly with a kitchen knife and turned himself into the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, where he demanded to be punished.
Gaylord was later arrested and found to have been intoxicated, the article said.
But PolitiFact found no record that such an arrest ever happened. John Medina, a spokesperson for Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, said he could not locate an incident that matched the scenario described in the Facebook post.
A TinEye search revealed that the mugshot used in the post appeared online in 2011, years before the purported arrest.
A Snopes reporter traced the picture in the Facebook post to a Florida resident whose photo appeared on WTSP-TV’s now-defunct mugshot gallery.
The crime included in the Facebook post is as imaginary as Gaylord’s make-believe companion. We rate this claim Pants on Fire!
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.