NOT REAL NEWS: A look at what didn’t happen this week


A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. None of these is legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked them out. Here are the real facts:


CLAIM: In 2016, Republicans in the Senate voted unanimously to ban people who were on the FBI’s terror watch list from buying guns. Every single Democrat voted against it.

THE FACTS: Two Democrats voted in support of a 2016 proposal sponsored by Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas that would have allowed the government to ban the sale of firearms to a known or suspected terrorist. The measure also would have given prosecutors three days to convince a judge of the suspect’s ties to terrorism. In fact, in 2016 there were dueling plans in the Senate — one forwarded by Republicans, the other by Democrats — to ban gun sales to terrorists. Both were voted down, basically along party lines, according to AP reporting. The vote on the measures came days after the June 12, 2016, mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, that killed 49 people. False information on votes surrounding the Republican proposal surfaced on Facebook and Twitter on Monday following the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. The 2016 Republican legislation restricting firearm sales to terrorists was voted down 53-47, with 51 Republicans voting for the measure, joined by Democrats Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Voting no were 42 Democrats, three Republicans and two independents. Separate Democratic legislation sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California that would have prohibited gun sales to known or suspected terrorists also failed, with 43 Democrats, two Republicans and two independents voting yes and 52 Republicans and one Democrat voting no. Republicans said Feinstein’s proposal gave the government too much power to deny people’s constitutional right to own a gun and noted that the terrorist watch list has mistakenly included some people. Democrats said the three-day window Cornyn’s measure gave prosecutors to prove their case made his plan ineffective.

In this Aug. 1, 2019 photo, people take photos of President Donald Trump’s portrait hanging in the Colorado Capitol after an unveiling ceremony in Denver. On Friday, Aug. 9, 2019, The Associated Press reported on a manipulated video circulating online incorrectly asserting that the painting of Obama, left, fell off the wall as Trump’s was unveiled. (AP Photo/Thomas Peipert)

CLAIM: Video captures a painting of former President Barack Obama falling off the wall as President Donald Trump’s portrait is unveiled at the Capitol in Colorado.

THE FACTS: The video was edited to make it appear that the former president’s portrait fell as Trump’s portrait was revealed during an event at the Capitol building on August 1. Obama’s portrait stayed firmly on the wall during the unveiling, according to Thomas Peipert, an AP reporter who covered the event. In the altered video, which circulated across social media platforms, not a single head turns as Obama’s portrait supposedly falls from the wall. The manipulated video was initially shared as a joke and tagged as comedy on Twitter. It was later shared on Facebook with comments suggesting users believed the portrait had fallen. The AP reported that Colorado Republicans raised more than $100,000 on GoFundMe to have Trump’s portrait painted by Sarah Boardman, who was also the artist for Obama’s portrait at the Capitol.

In this Dec. 10, 2018 photo, villagers attend the joint funeral of Kashmiri teenage rebels Saqib Bilal Sheikh and Mudasir Rashid Parray at Hajin village, north of Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir. On Friday, Aug. 9, 2019, The Associated Press reported on a video circulating online that was incorrectly identified as showing hundreds of thousands of people taking part in a recent protest in Kashmir to liberate their land from India. The scene depicted is from this funeral procession. (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan)

CLAIM: Video shows hundreds of thousands of people taking part in a recent protest in Kashmir to liberate their land from India.

THE FACTS: The video has been incorrectly identified. It does not show the recent protests in the disputed region; it shows women taking part in a December 2018 funeral procession for two teenage Kashmiri rebels. According to AP coverage at the time, the teenagers were killed in a gun battle with Indian troops. The video was shared on Twitter and Facebook this week. It began circulating after Indian authorities announced they would strip the Muslim-majority region of its statehood and special constitutional status. Kashmir is claimed by both India and its archrival Pakistan. Rebels have been fighting India rule in the portion it administers for decades. In the video, women can be seen flooding a street in Jammu and Kashmir, a state in the larger region of Kashmir, as part of the 2018 procession. In a story published Dec. 10, 2018, AP reported that thousands flocked to the funeral of the two boys. AP photos showed the women crowding into the streets and being held back by men.


This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

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