Facts Matter: Queen Elizabeth II alive and working
Last week it was reported the United Kingdom's Queen Elizabeth II had tested positive for COVID-19. Just days later, it was announced on a celebrity website that she had died.
"Sources close to the Royal kingdom notified us exclusively that Queen Elizabeth has passed away," Hollywood Unlocked claimed on Feb. 22. The outlet's Instagram post was liked more than 150,000 times and shared hundreds of times within hours.
But the claim is false, according to USA Today. The 95-year-old queen is alive and overseeing the British monarchy's official business.
On the day after the false report, the queen held her weekly phone meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, according to The Associated Press. She had previously canceled virtual meetings due to coldlike symptoms from the coronavirus.
The news of the queen's death was debunked by a British official.
"Hollywood unlocked posting the Queen is dead???? There is no credible source that verifies this. #False," tweeted Dayo Okewale, who works as a chief of staff in the House of Lords.
There was no official notification of the queen's death, USA Today said. In the event it did happen, the British government has an intricate plan to get the word out, called "Operation London Bridge." The queen's private secretary would be the first notified, and he would then call the prime minister and say, "London Bridge is down." After other officials have been told, the news will be released as a news flash to the rest of the world.
Prayer photo not from current conflict
As fighting began at the Russia-Ukraine border, a photo showing a group of people kneeling in the snow has been making the rounds on social media.
"Ukrainian Christians pray outdoors, in the snow, for their country in this phase of war danger," reads the caption on one of the posts.
Although the photo appears to be people praying, and it is from Ukraine, it's not an image taken during the current conflict, according to Reuters. It dates back to at least 2019.
The photo shows pairs of people on their knees, facing each other, in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. It ran with a Sept. 25 article, headlined, "Standing on our knees," published by the International Mission Board, a Baptist missionary society.
The participants are a prayer group that has been meeting in the city square since 2014, following military action by separatists, Reuters said.
Trump shook hands with Trudeau
A moment in time, posted on social media, claims former President Donald Trump refused to shake hands with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
A photo showing Trump offering only a stern look to a smiling Trudeau, who is reaching out to shake the president's hand, was posted on Facebook with the comment, "Trump knew. One of my favorite photos of all time! Gotta love Trump."
The image is real, but it's been taken out of context, according to PolitiFact. Trump did shake hands with Trudeau.
The photo was taken when the two world leaders met during the June 2018 Group of Seven summit in Quebec, Canada. The image recently posted on social media was taken at the beginning of their encounter.
Video from the event shows the moment with Trump looking at Trudeau's outstretched hand occurred at the four-second mark of the clip. At the five-second mark, they shake hands.
Clinton was not "taken to Gitmo"
A recent Facebook post claims former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was taken into custody.
"Hillary coming to Gitmo," reads the text posted with a video. The video is just a photo of Clinton and the text, "Hillary is taken to Gitmo."
But the story "is unfounded and there's no evidence to support it," according to PolitiFact.
Since the day Clinton was supposedly taken to "Gitmo," she has tweeted or retweeted four times, posted on Facebook twice and posted a photo of herself on Instagram to promote her podcast.
Other stories of Clinton being brought to Guantanamo Bay, or Gitmo, including a claim she was "hanged at Gitmo," have all been debunked, PolitiFact said.
• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.