Facts Matter: Ordering pizza is not a known distress signal

  • If you call 911 and pretend to order a pizza, will the dispatcher send help? Not necessarily, say experts who criticize a social media post touting that advice.

    If you call 911 and pretend to order a pizza, will the dispatcher send help? Not necessarily, say experts who criticize a social media post touting that advice. Associated Press

Updated 12/29/2018 4:41 PM

A recent social media post claims a person needing to call 911 without tipping off others within earshot should dial the number and pretend to order a pizza.

But an official said dispatchers are not trained to interpret a pizza order as a need for help, according to The Associated Press.


"Setting any expectations of secret phrases that will work with any 911 center is potentially very dangerous," Christopher Carver, dispatch center operations director for the National Emergency Number Association, told AP.

According to the post, "If you need to call 911 but are scared to because of someone in the room, dial and ask for a pepperoni pizza." The caller should ask how long it will be for the pizza and the dispatcher "will tell you how far away a patrol unit is."

A dispatcher won't hang up on someone requesting pizza and will ask questions to determine what is going on, Carver said. But placing a pizza order in an emergency is not "standard practice or procedure."

Facebook flags fake Schumer meme

A recent post shared on social media shows a picture of Democratic U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer accompanied by a quote in which the Senate minority leader said he signed off on $25 billion for a border wall in 2014 but opposes $5 billion for President Donald Trump's wall "just because he's a Republican and wants it."

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The meme, however, is "swimming in factual errors and fishy interpretations," according to PolitiFact.com, which rated it "false."

There was no border wall deal in 2014, PolitiFact said. Schumer spearheaded immigration legislation in 2013 but it didn't include $25 billion for a wall. The $46 billion border security plan included $30 billion for hiring more U.S. Border Patrol agents and nearly $8 billion set for building or repairing 700 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. That bill did not pass the House.

Schumer spokesman Daniel Yoken told PolitiFact, "Sen. Schumer supported fencing where it makes sense then and still does today."

Schumer reportedly backed $25 billion for a border wall in exchange for an immigration package in January that included a deal for Dreamers, PolitiFact said, but rescinded the offer when Trump rejected the immigration package.

The meme was flagged in Facebook's battle against false news and misinformation, PolitiFact said.

No listeria outbreak reported

A fake post earlier this month, made to look like a public service announcement, claimed a nationwide listeria outbreak tainted vegetables sold at Walmart and other grocery stores, according to The Associated Press.


No listeria outbreak affecting vegetables was reported in December by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the Centers for Disease Control, AP said.

The false claim said the contaminated produce was found at supermarkets across the country and could "potentially affect millions of Americans," according to AP.

The announcement was based on a 2017 Miami Herald story about a multistate recall after listeria was found in vegetables connected to Mann Packing, AP said.

That recall more than a year ago stretched from the Pacific coast to Pennsylvania, the Miami Herald reported.

Clarkson still working on 'Voice'

Despite a fake post disguised as an article from US Weekly, singer Kelly Clarkson has not been fired from the TV competition "The Voice," <URL destination=" https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/clarkson-fired-voice/">according to Snopes.com.

</URL>Earlier this month, the website gainestylist.com used the US Weekly color scheme and put the magazine's logo in the post, Snopes said. Although it began with a story about Clarkson's departure from the show, the article was actually an advertisement for a diet pill.

Other fake stories about celebrities designed to sell products include Melissa McCarthy touting a diet pill, Denzel Washington endorsing a brain supplement and Ellen DeGeneres leaving her show to start a skin care line, according to Snopes.

• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at boboswald33@gmail.com.

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