Don’t get spun by Internet rumors.
Just because you read it on somebody’s blog or in an email from a friend or relative doesn’t mean it’s true. It’s probably not, as we advised in our special report “Is this chain e-mail true?” on March 18, 2008. On this page we feature a list of the false or misleading viral rumors we’re asked about most often, and a brief summary of the facts. But click on the links to read the full articles. There is a lot more detail in each answer. If you’re looking for articles about other viral claims, please use our search function.
Did “Obama and the EPA” shut down the nation’s last lead smelting plant as part of a “back door gun control” plan to reduce the supply of ammunition?
No. The plant closing on Dec. 31 is in response to EPA rules adopted before President Obama took office, and ammunition manufacturers say it will not affect supply.
Dec. 23, 2013
Is it true that Obamacare provides for opening “free gasoline” service stations for low-income people?
No. This rumor was started by a satirical news story.
Nov. 25, 2013
Does the Affordable Care Act restrict my ability to get a mammogram?
No. In fact, the law requires insurers to cover mammography, with no cost-sharing, every one to two years for women starting at age 40. Medicare fully pays for mammograms once every 12 months with no upper age limit.
Oct. 18, 2013
Will doctors be required to ask patients questions about their sexual history under the Affordable Care Act?
No. A program created by the stimulus law – not Obamacare — encourages health professionals to use electronic records. But there is no requirement in the program to ask anything about sexual history.
Oct. 1, 2013
Does the health care law contain a “hidden” tax on hunting and fishing equipment?
No. There is a 2.3 percent excise tax on certain medical devices. Cabela’s, a Nebraska sporting goods company, applied the tax to some of its customers’ purchases by mistake.
Sep. 18, 2013
Will there be forced home inspections under the Affordable Care Act?
No. The law provides grants for state home-visiting programs for expectant and new parents. The programs are voluntary and participants can opt out any time.
Aug. 26, 2013
Is it true that there are bills in Congress that would exempt members and their staffs and families from buying into “Obamacare”?
No. Congress members and staffers will be required to buy insurance through the exchanges on Jan. 1.
May 3, 2013; Updated on Aug. 7, 2013
Is “Obama’s finance team” recommending a 1 percent tax on all bank transactions, as a chain e-mail claims?
No. This idea was first floated in 2004 by one House member, who says it would replace the federal income tax and eliminate the national debt. So far it has gone nowhere.
Sept. 8, 2010; Updated June 5, 2012
Do 11 states now have more people on welfare than they have employed?
A viral email making this claim is off base. It distorts a Forbes article that compares private-sector workers with those “dependent on the government,” including government workers and pensioners, and Medicaid recipients — not just “people on welfare.”
Jan. 11, 2013
Is President Obama honoring Jane Fonda as one of the women of the century?
No. That was done 11 years ago by Barbara Walters of ABC News.
Nov. 22, 2010
Did Muslim terrorists stage a “dry run” on AirTran flight 297?
The airline and an eyewitness say this e-mailed claim is “an urban legend” spread by persons who “live in a fantasy world.”
Dec. 14, 2009
Are Obama’s early records “sealed”?
No. Many records that presidential candidates don’t ordinarily release do remain confidential, but they are not “sealed” by a court. The 16 claims in a widely distributed graphic are mostly false or distorted.
July 31, 2012
Does the Obama administration intend to “force gun control and a complete ban on all weapons for U.S. citizens” through a United Nations treaty?
No. The administration plans to negotiate a treaty to regulate the international export and import of weapons. It says that it won’t support any treaty that regulates the domestic transfer or ownership of weapons, or that infringes on the Second Amendment.
June 27, 2012
Did Barack and Michelle Obama “surrender” their law licenses to avoid ethics charges?
No. A court official confirms that no public disciplinary proceeding has ever been brought against either of them, contrary to a false Internet rumor. By voluntarily inactivating their licenses, they avoid a requirement to take continuing education classes and pay hundreds of dollars in annual fees. Both could practice law again if they chose to do so.
June 14, 2012
Is it true that members of Congress, their staffers and their family members do not have to pay back their student loans?
Not true. Some congressional employees are eligible to have up to $60,000 of student loans repaid after several years — just like other federal workers. But that’s not the case for members of Congress or their families.
Jan. 6, 2011
Is there any truth in the e-mail claiming to give “a few highlights from the first 500 pages of the Healthcare bill”?
Barely. We examined all 48 claims, finding 26 of them to be false and 18 to be misleading, only partly true or half true. Only four are accurate.
Aug. 28, 2009
Will Muslim Americans be exempt from the mandate to have health insurance?
The Muslim faith does not forbid purchasing health insurance, and no Muslim group has ever been considered exempt under the definitions used in the health care law.
May 20, 2010
What about the “Congressional Reform Act of 2011”?
A viral e-mail calls for fixing some abuses and excesses that don’t exist, repeating misinformed claims that we’ve addressed before.
March 18, 2011
Does Illinois pay a grandmother $1,500 per month per child to be the foster parent to her eight grandchildren?
No. State officials have no record of such a case, and state law would not allow it. This second-hand story spread by a Danville urologist isn’t true.
Dec. 10, 2010
Has President Obama canceled the May 6 National Day of Prayer?
No. This widely circulated falsehood echoes similar claims made last year when the president issued a pro-prayer-day proclamation but didn’t hold White House services as President Bush had done.
April 29, 2010
Is the ACLU suing to have cross-shaped headstones removed from military cemeteries?
The ACLU has filed no such suit, and it hasn’t sued to “end prayer from the military” either.
July 5, 2009
Has a “smoking gun” been found to prove Obama was not born a U.S. citizen? Did he attend Occidental College on a scholarship for foreign students?
This chain e-mail is a transparent April Fools’ Day hoax. It fabricates an AP news story about an nonexistent group, and makes false claims about Obama and the Fulbright program.
May 7, 2009
Is Congress about to give Social Security to illegal immigrants?
No. Congress hasn’t voted on any measure to pay benefits to illegal immigrants, and has no plans for any such vote.
March 1, 2009
(This long-standing falsehood was bandied about back in 2006 and again during the 2008 presidential election.)
Was Obama born in the U.S.A.?
Yes. We give you the truth about Obama’s birth certificate.
Aug. 21, 2008
Updated Nov. 1, 2008
Is there a connection between FactCheck.org and Barack Obama or Bill Ayers?
None, aside from benefiting at different times from the charity of the late publisher Walter Annenberg. We are a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania and get funding from the Annenberg Foundation, created by Walter Annenberg in 1989. Ayers was one of three Chicago educators who applied for a grant from the Annenberg Foundation in 1995, which was one of 5,200 grants the foundation made during its first 15 years. That $49 million grant, plus additional funds raised locally, funded the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, which sought to improve Chicago public schools. Obama was selected by Chicago officials (not Ayers) to chair the board set up to administer Annenberg Challenge funds, and he headed it until 1999. FactCheck.org came into being in late 2003. For other details see our Oct. 10, 2008, article about Obama and Ayers, which includes a sidebar: “FactCheck.org and the ‘Annenberg Challenge.’ “