STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.
Was a group of women caught rigging the 2018 elections in Texas for the Democratic party? No, that's not true: a link to a (now deleted) video about a real 2016 voter fraud case is still being shared around social media with many people believing it to be about the current 2018 midterm elections.
The video appears to have been published on Vimeo at some point in time with the title "Voter Fraud Ring Caught Rigging Elections for Democrats in Texas" but it has since been removed. The description read:
Read more: https://neonnettle.com
Users sharing the link social media still see this title, description and a thumbnail:
Read more: https://neonnettle.com
It seems to refer to this article describing a real voter fraud case from 2016:
Neon Nettle - Voter Fraud Ring Caught Rigging Elections for Democrats in Texas - Four women arrested over fraudulent votes for Democratic candidates in 2016 primaries
Which seems to be mostly based on this article about real events that indeed took place in 2016:
Organized voter fraud ring targeted elderly voters on Fort Worth's north side. Their goal was to steal seniors' votes and switch them to their candidates. Texas attorney general's office says they were indicted and arrested.
But because the video is no longer online on Vimeo many people now seem to believe it is about the current midterm elections. Here is an example of someone sharing the video in the belief that it refers to current events:
And some more examples:
It's Starting. https://t.co/H82svysn1V-- Seedtime and Harvest (@Seedtime_) October 27, 2018
Already.....??? https://t.co/8O3FJsRlye-- Ashley Usina (@ashelu80) November 3, 2018
#@$%^&& who knows where else they have it rigged. It's a party that is desperate filled with anger, hate and resistance...sad https://t.co/zHxc9jtySG-- Cathie Macie (@grammycat1956) November 2, 2018
Always check the date when sharing something as "news". And checking if the link you are sharing is still working is also a good idea it would seem.
We were contacted by the people running NeonNettle who informed us their readers were contacting them claiming Lead Stories said the reporting on NeonNettle was not true. To be absolutely clear: we are NOT saying the NeonNettle article is false and we are NOT saying they intended to cause confusion with their headline. Their article clearly mentions it is about 2016 events and the facts all support this.
The reason the link to the video went massively viral seems to be that many people are interpreting it to be about the 2018 election even though the original video did not show that (but the people sharing the link can't see that since the video was taken down). We added several extra examples of social media posts to illustrate this confusion.
NeonNettle also told us the reason the video disappeared from Vimeo is that their account on the service was removed and they are still trying to contact them to find out the reason. They are not to blame for this confusion and after losing their Vimeo account they do not have control anymore over the social media snippet that shows up when the link to the deleted video is being shared.
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Then click here if you have Facebook or click here if you have Twitter to see who is sharing it (it might even be your friends...) and leave the link in the comments.