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

Fake News: Barack Obama Did NOT Tweet About Asking Ukraine About Birth Certificate

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Mon, 07 Oct 2019 17:30:02 Z)

Did former President of the United States Barack Obama send a tweet about asking Ukraine if they found his birth certificate? No, that's not true: the viral image making that claim is not a real screenshot of a tweet.

An example of the image was uploaded to Reddit on or around October 5, 2019 (archived here) and it seemingly showed a Tweet sent by @BarackObama on October 4, 2019 that read:

While we're at it ask Ukraine if they found my birth certificate

Screenshot of https://i.redd.it/9i3hker7mrq31.jpg

This was the image in question:

obamatweet.jpg

No trace of such a tweet is present in Obama's Twitter history at the time of writing. We also checked the Internet Archive for a saved copy of the tweet and didn't find it. Politwoops, a website that automatically keeps track of deleted tweets from politicians, also doesn't have it. Neither does a bot account on Twitter-like service Gab that automatically reposts all tweets from the @BarackObama twitter account. So it doesn't seem likely the tweet once existed but was deleted.

Interestingly enough Obama's last full-text tweet (at the time of writing) is this one from September 20, 2019:

If you check the version saved in the Internet Archive on October 5, 2019 it appears it had the same number of likes and retweets that are shown (rounded) in the screenshot of the false tweet: "40,544 Retweets 248,119 Likes". Note that the mobile version of Twitter's website shows like and retweet counts as rounded numbers, so 40,544 would become 40,5K. Here is the version in the Internet Archive if you want to check for yourself:

Barack Obama on Twitter

One challenge will define the future for today's young generation more dramatically than any other: Climate change. The millions of young people worldwide who've organized and joined today's #ClimateStrike demand action to protect our planet, and they deserve it.

So it looks like someone simply edited a local copy of that tweet to modify the text and the date before uploading a manipulated screenshot to Reddit as a joke, after which it "escaped" and went viral on the internet where many people thought it was real.

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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