Just Because It's Trending Doesn't Mean It's True
Hoax Alert

Fake News: NO International Politicians Lost Two Daughters to Texas Walmart Shooting in El Paso

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Tue, 06 Aug 2019 15:13:19 Z)

Did British Prime Minister Boris Johnson or President Maithripala Sirisena of Sri Lanka (or any other well known figure) lose two daughters in the recent shooting an El Paso Walmart? No, that's not true: quasi-identical stories to that effect have been put out by a website that is known for publishing the same death hoaxes and false stories over and over again but with different people as their subject and set in different locations.

The Boris Johnson story originated from an article published by CBTV on August 4, 2019 titled "BREAKING NEWS: Boris Johnson loses two daughters to Texas Walmart shooting - El Paso News" (archived here) which opened:

Two daughters of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson are among victims of Saturday's shooting at El Paso, Texas, which left at least 20 people dead, El Paso Police Department has said. Other media outlets report that Lara Lettice Johnson and Cassia Peaches Johnson sustained life-threatening injuries and passed on while on admission at the hospital. ...

Screenshot of https://cbtvn.com/boris-johnson-loses-two-daughters/

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:

BREAKING NEWS: Boris Johnson loses two daughters to Texas Walmart shooting - El Paso News

Two daughters of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson are among victims of Saturday's shooting at El Paso, Texas, which left at least 20 people dead, El Paso Police Department has said. Other media outlets report that Lara Lettice Johnson and Cassia Peaches Johnson sustained life-threatening injuries and passed on while on admission at the hospital. ...

The Sri Lanka version of the hoax (archived here) was published shortly later:

BREAKING NEWS: Maithripala Sirisena loses two daughters to Texas Walmart shooting - El Paso Latest News

Two daughters of President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena are among victims of Saturday's shooting at El Paso, Texas, which left at least 20 people dead, El Paso Police Department has said. Other media outlets report that Dharani Sirisena and Chathurika Sirisena sustained life-threatening injuries and passed on while on admission at the hospital.

No reputable news sources made any mention of this "news" because it was made up but we expect more versions of the story to pop up in the future given that cbtvn.com has run several other hoaxes before that were repeated over time with different protagonists and locations. Here is a list of three recent (death) hoaxes that were being run by the site:

The site ususally spreads its hoaxes by spamming them into local Facebook groups using a variety of (likely hacked or sold) Facebook accounts. If you see something from CBTV.com, don't trust it, ever!

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About the author:

Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

About Lead Stories

Lead Stories uses the Trendolizer™ engine to detect the most trending stories from known fake news, satire and prank websites and tries to debunk them as fast as possible. Read more about how we work and how we select stories to check here.

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