November 16, 2020

This week, MediaWise’s Teen Fact-Checking Network took on six claims, focusing on the presidential election, Justice Amy Coney Barrett and the coronavirus pandemic.

The internet asked if Sharpiegate is legit, if Melania Trump voted twice, what Justice Amy Coney Barrett believes in, if she was confirmed along strict party lines, if masks are effective at preventing COVID-19, and how good New Zealand’s contact tracing is. Here are our answers.  

Is Sharpie Gate legit?

 

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Conservative commentator Ryan Fournier and other social media users have claimed that some voters in Arizona won’t have their votes counted because they were given Sharpies to fill out their ballots, which would not be readable by ballot-counting machines. Election officials in Arizona have said that Sharpies are actually preferred for voting because ballot-counting machines can most easily read their marks. So, Sharpies work on ballots. 

MediaWise rating: Not Legit

Did Melania Trump vote twice?

 

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Social media users claimed that Melania Trump voted twice because of reports of her voting by mail in August and voting in person on Election Day. Melania Trump did vote by mail in August, but she voted in the Florida primary election. On Election Day, she voted in the general election. She did not illegally vote twice. 

MediaWise rating: Not Legit 

Was Amy Coney Barrett confirmed along strict party lines?

 

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Some social media users claimed that Amy Coney Barrett was the first Supreme Court justice confirmed along strict party lines in 150 years. The 45 Democratic senators and two independent senators that caucus with them all voted against Barrett’s confirmation. However, Republican Sen. Susan Collins also voted against Barrett’s confirmation. The 52 other Senate Republicans voted to confirm. Because of Collins’s vote, the Senate did not vote along strict party lines during Barrett’s confirmation. 

MediaWise rating: Not Legit 

Are these really Amy Coney Barrett’s beliefs?

 

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U.S. Representative-elect Mondaire Jones, a Democrat from New York, claimed that Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett thinks the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, opposes abortion and LGBTQ+ civil rights, and would vote to undo marriage equality. Barrett has been critical of the ACA in the past, but has not called the entire law unconstitutional. She has not yet voted on the law, which recently saw oral arguments at the court. Barrett has said that abortion is “always immoral,” but has also said that her views will have no bearing on her actions as a judge. Barrett has suggested that Title IX should be changed to restrict transgender people’s access to bathrooms and stated that marriage is between a man and a woman. It’s clear that in the past she’s been personally against abortion and certain LGBTQ+ rights, including the right to marriage, and there’s no evidence that she thinks the entire ACA is unconstitutional. 

MediaWise rating: Mixed Bag 

Are masks effective at preventing COVID-19?

 

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A popular Instagram account said that a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found many COVID-19 patients had worn masks. A closer look at the study reveals the number of patients studied was very low, and that the size of the reported non-mask wearing group was particularly small. A number of other behaviors that could lead to greater COVID-19 exposure were also studied, making it clear that this study does not imply mask use was responsible for the infected patients’ diagnoses. More broadly, it is not true that 85% of mask wearers contract COVID-19. This study was meant to assess the behavior of those exposed to COVID-19, and it does not show that people who wear masks are more likely to get the illness. 

MediaWise rating: Needs Context

Is New Zealand’s contact tracing really that good? 

 

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Social media users have made big claims about the intensity and effectiveness of New Zealand’s contact tracing. They’ve claimed that the country has traced infection sites back to single elevator buttons and specific trash bins. Trusted local reporting and public health authorities have confirmed that these contact tracing claims are true. 

MediaWise rating: Legit  

Fact-check sources

Is Sharpiegate legit?

Did Melania Trump vote twice?

Was Amy Coney Barrett confirmed on strict party lines?

Are these really Amy Coney Barrett’s beliefs?

Are masks effective at preventing COVID-19?

Is New Zealand’s contact tracing really that good?

These fact checks are available at IFCN’s 2020 U.S. Elections FactChat #Chatbot on WhatsApp. Click here  for more.

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