Facts Matter: Booster shot was not cause of Betty White's death

  • Contrary to the claims of some social media posts, actress Betty White died of natural causes at 99, her manager told Reuters.

    Contrary to the claims of some social media posts, actress Betty White died of natural causes at 99, her manager told Reuters. Associated Press File Photo

  • An organization that denies climate change suggested koalas -- as well as whales and polar bears -- are no longer endangered, a claim denied by authorities and wildlife activists.

    An organization that denies climate change suggested koalas -- as well as whales and polar bears -- are no longer endangered, a claim denied by authorities and wildlife activists. Associated Press File Photo

 
Updated 1/10/2022 2:20 PM

Actress Betty White died on New Year's Eve, three weeks short of her 100th birthday. The Oak Park native, born Jan. 17, 1922, quickly became the subject of misinformation.

Social media users shared the quote, "Eat healthy and get all your vaccines. I just got boosted today," purportedly posted by White on Dec. 28.

 

Some commenters linked the vaccine to her death.

"That third jab was the charm," a Facebook user wrote. "Boosted on the 28th, dead on the 31st. Getting jabbed at all is like playing Russian roulette with a Glock 17, a 9mm."

But White didn't post anything about receiving a vaccine, according to Reuters.

"Betty White never said those words, NEVER," her manager, Jeff Witjas, told Reuters.

The post, with the fake quote and a photo of White, includes a link to an online article about White. But the article doesn't mention the vaccine or booster shots.

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Witjas told People magazine that White died peacefully at her home of natural causes.

Trump didn't cut Social Security

A political group's post, linked to a petition to increase Social Security benefits, claims former President Donald Trump took away from the program.

"Trump cut Social Security benefits by over $3 BILLION," begins a Nov. 10 Facebook post by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a group focused on electing progressives.

But Trump didn't make any cuts to Social Security, according to PolitiFact.

PolitiFact's "Trump-O-Meter" rates his 2015 campaign promise to not "cut Social Security like every other Republican" as a "promise kept."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

However, Trump proposed cuts to Social Security that didn't happen.

In 2020, the former president talked about eliminating the payroll tax that funds Social Security and his 2021 budget proposed cutting two programs administered by Social Security.

Results inaccurate if test used incorrectly

Videos making the rounds on social media show COVID-19 home tests, after being doused with tap water, showing a positive result. Some users claim that showed the tests are inaccurate.

"Now it makes me look even deeper, is it the water??? Am I really positive?" a Facebook user asked.

No, the coronavirus is not in the water, according to The Associated Press. And the test result is not accurate because the test is being used incorrectly.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said COVID-19 has not been detected in tap water and the World Health Organization has reported the virus is not transmittable through water.

A spokesperson for Abbott Laboratories, which produces one of the home tests, told the AP that a failure to follow the instructions can lead to invalid results.

"Spreading misinformation with deliberate misuse of a medical product during a pandemic is misleading, irresponsible and dangerous to public health," the spokesperson said.

Certain animals still endangered

A Facebook post last month claimed certain animals no longer are in danger of extinction despite reports that humans are accelerating the decrease of some species by interfering with their habitats and contributing to climate change.

"You should get out more. Polar bears have increased 400% in 45 yrs. Whales are nearly fully recovered. Extinctions are down 90% past century (IUCN). Koalas doing fine," read the post from an account named Climate Change is Crap.

But things are not fine, according to FactCheck.org.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature, or IUCN, classifies polar bears as "vulnerable," which means the species could face global extinction. This is mostly because climate change is causing the sea ice to melt.

As for the whales, some species remain "critically endangered," the IUCN reports.

The International Whaling Commission said while some whale species are recovering, others remain endangered.

"Whaling has been replaced by other man-made hazards, such as bycatch, collision with ships, ocean noise, and other forms of habitat degradation, as the primary threats to cetaceans," the groups website states.

Koalas also are classified by the IUCN as "vulnerable."

There are fewer than 100,000 koalas remaining in the wild, according to the Australian Koala Foundation.

"Koalas are in serious decline suffering from the effects of habitat destruction, domestic dog attacks, bush fires and road accidents," the foundation said.

• 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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