Fake News Friday: A look at what didn’t happen this week

In this Oct. 25, 2018, file photo, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at a rally in Las Vegas. On Feb. 22, 2019, The Associated Press found that stories circulating on the internet that a Chicago Tribune photo shows Sanders being arrested after racist attack, are untrue. | Associated Press photo by John Locher, St. George News

(AP) — The following is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online and work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

This brief roundup offers 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.

NOT REAL: Bravo greenlights reality show with restaurateur B. Smith, her husband and his girlfriend

THE FACTS: Bravo says it has not given approval to a reality television show starring former model and restaurateur B. Smith, her husband and his girlfriend, despite reports circulating online.

Smith, 69, whose first name is Barbara, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2013. Her husband and business partner, Dan Gasby, recently revealed that his girlfriend, Alex Lerner, was spending a significant amount of time at their East Hampton home, creating an uproar on social media. Then came false reports of plans for a reality television show.

In this March 15, 2017, file photo, Dan Gasby, right, husband of chef, restaurateur and lifestyle guru B. Smith, left, talks about the couple’s challenges dealing with Smith’s early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, in Winston-Salem, NC. On Feb. 22, 2019, The Associated Press found that stories circulating on the internet that Bravo has greenlighted a reality show with B. Smith, her husband and girlfriend, are untrue. | Photo by David Rolfe/The Winston-Salem Journal via Associated Press, St. George News

Online petitions began circulating on the website Change.org under the headlines including “Tell Bravo not to air B. Smith show” and “Say NO to B. Smith Reality Show.”

Bravo confirmed in an email Tuesday to The Associated Press that there is no show in development. Gasby also knocked down the reports. “The story is false,” he said in a statement to the AP.

Smith was in the limelight for decades, first gracing the cover of magazines as a top model, then as a restaurateur and lifestyle maven, before the progressive disease began to affect her memory and behavior. She and Gasby, who have been married for more than 20 years, have been open about the challenges of living with Alzheimer’s.

— AP Writer Beatrice Dupuy reported this item from New York.

NOT REAL: Photo purports to show a U.S. woman who joined the Islamic State beheading a man.

THE FACTS: A photo of a person dressed in camouflage and wearing a black headdress performing a beheading is not Hoda Muthana, the Alabama woman who left the U.S. in 2014 to join the Islamic State group in Syria, as false reports circulating on social media claim.

The photo, which was taken from a video released by IS in 2015, shows a child in Homs, Syria, beheading a Syrian army captain, Adam Raisman, chief senior analyst for the SITE Intelligence Group, said in an email to The Associated Press. Mia Bloom, a professor of communication at Georgia State University and author of “Small Arms: Children and Terrorism,” said the video shows one of earliest instances of a child trained by IS attempting to perform a beheading.

“It is definitely not Hoda,” Bloom said.

The photo began circulating widely this week after Muthana asked if she could return to the U.S. with her son. Muthana’s attorney Hassan Shibly told the AP that the photo was fake.

“It is sad that people are so blinded by hate that they have to refer to fake news to further sensationalize what is a very straightforward case,” Shibly said.

U.S. officials have denied her request to return.

— AP Writer Beatrice Dupuy reported this item from New York.

NOT REAL: Black-and-white photo shows Bernie Sanders being arrested after racist attack.

THE FACTS: A Chicago Tribune photo of a young Bernie Sanders being arrested in August 1963 is being misrepresented on social media. The false reports claim that he was arrested after racist attacks against civil rights protesters.

However, according to reports in the Chicago Tribune, the photo was taken as Sanders was arrested during protests over “Willis wagons,” which were mobile classrooms that were installed to ease overcrowding in black schools. The aluminum trailers, named after the Chicago Public Schools Superintendent Benjamin C. Willis, who devised the plan, were seen as perpetuating segregation.

In the photo, Sanders is crouching down as two police officers hold his arms to remove him from the protest. According to the Tribune, Sanders was charged with resisting arrest, found guilty and fined $25.

The 1960s photo emerged during Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign when questions arose over his civil rights activities. It resurfaced with false captions after he announced his 2020 candidacy on Feb. 19.

— AP Writer Chloe Kim reported this item from Washington, D.C.

Find all AP Fact Checks here.

Written by The Associated Press.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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