A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue headlines of the week. None of these stories is legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked these out; here are the real facts:
Not real: Female-led construction company was responsible for deadly bridge collapse
The facts: Munilla Construction Management, the company that built the fallen bridge, deactivated its social media pages Sunday after it received threats against employees following a false report that the company was led by women. MCM said its management team of 92 people includes 11 women. Conservative sites such as Squawker and Dangerous reported women led the company that constructed the bridge that collapsed March 15 at Florida International University, suggesting the collapse occurred because women built the structure.
Not real: Court Orders Obama to pay $400 million in restitution
The facts: A satire site falsely claimed a federal appeals court ordered the former president to pay $400 million in “restitution” to the United States for money supposedly lost in a transaction with “hard-liners” in Iran. The Daily World Update article cites a nonexistent West Texas Federal Appeals Court for the 33rd District; there is no federal appeals court in Texas. It names three people as federal judges who are not on the U.S. bench: Gary Jones, Amanda Perry and Kris Weinshenker. The story includes made-up quotes from the fictional judges’ opinion that disparage Obama.
Not real: Florida passes bill legalizing recreational use of marijuana
The facts: A Florida official said the state Legislature has not legalized the recreational use of marijuana. The website yourdailyideas.com, in a story circulating online out of Orlando, Florida, reported lawmakers “past bills to legalize the use of marijuana” to “jump-start the economy.” The Legislature is based in the capital, Tallahassee. A majority of Florida voters approved an amendment in 2016 for the legalization of marijuana use for medical purposes, but lawmakers could not agree on a bill in the next session.
Not real: NASA admits to spraying Americans with lithium and other chemicals
The facts: The space agency has made no such statement, despite the false claim of several websites that NASA has “confessed” to “dosing Americans” with lithium and other chemicals. NASA explains on its website that it uses the materials for wind experiments launched on sounding rockets to the upper atmosphere. The agency says the metals used — barium, lithium and aluminum compounds — are also used in fireworks. It compares its tests to releasing a harmless dye into a river or stream.
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.