Facts Matter: Viral claim about school shooting was made up

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a news conference in Uvalde, Texas, on May 25. A fraudulent tweet last week accused him of asking a relative of a Uvalde shooting victim for a statement against restrictions on guns.

    Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a news conference in Uvalde, Texas, on May 25. A fraudulent tweet last week accused him of asking a relative of a Uvalde shooting victim for a statement against restrictions on guns. Associated Press Photo

  • A motorist fills up with gasoline. Recent social media posts incorrectly claim the United States has the lowest gasoline prices in the world.

    A motorist fills up with gasoline. Recent social media posts incorrectly claim the United States has the lowest gasoline prices in the world. Associated Press Photo

 
 
Updated 6/11/2022 5:16 PM

A recent Twitter post, purportedly from a relative of a school shooting victim, claiming the family turned down a strange offer from the Texas governor, rang up more than 36,000 retweets days after 21 people were killed in Uvlade, Texas.

The tweet claimed a representative for Tepxas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott approached the victim's family, shortly after the May 24 shooting at Robb Elementary School, with an offer of money if they publicly stated opposition to restrictive gun laws.

 

"(The representative) informed us he (was) willing to pay us to stand with the Gov and say we don't need stronger gun laws," the post read. "(He) said that if we speak about this conversation we will be facing charges and possibly worse."

The tweet writer said the family declined the offer.

But there was no offer, according to USA Today. The entire story was fabricated.

"This did not happen and would never be allowed to happen," Abbott's press secretary Renea Eze told USA Today.

The tweet came from an anonymous account. USA Today spoke to Jason Nauertz, a Spokane, Washington, man whose Facebook account is associated with that Twitter account. He claimed the story was false and it was posted on his account by a hacker. Nauertz said he has hired a lawyer to press charges.

USA Today could not confirm the account was hacked, if there was an attorney involved or if the person they talked to was actually Nauertz.

The viral reaction to the tweet was a mix of people who were sympathetic and those who were skeptical. In a tweet, Texas Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro offered help to the family, but later said the anonymous claim "shouldn't be treated as true unless vetted and verified."

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'Blame Biden' note on gas pump is fake

Amid a continual rise in gas prices, a social media post makes it appear Costco is trying to shift blame for the increase.

The post includes a photo showing a Costco gas pump with a digital screen stating, "Don't blame us. Blame Joe Biden."

But it's not real, according to The Associated Press. the photo has been altered.

"Manipulated images related to Costco gas stations" are "in no way affiliated with or approved by Costco," Costco said in a statement.

There are several clues the image has been manipulated, including inconsistent lines and angles and three buttons on the digital screen that say "Yes," Hany Farid, a digital forensics expert and professor at University of California Berkeley, told the AP.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"This is a common mistake made when manipulating text on a sign because the human visual system is not particularly good at reasoning about this type of perspective geometry," Farid said.

U.S. doesn't have world's cheapest gas

In a twist from blaming President Joe Biden for high gas prices, a recent social media post gives him credit for keeping fuel prices low.

"My plan is to thank President Biden for giving Americans the cheapest gas prices on Earth. I gassed up today for $4.29 a gallon at Exxon. Thanks Joe," read a recent tweet.

The post included a chart, titled "Gas prices around the world," listing a price per gallon in several countries such as Hong Kong: $10.71, Denmark: $9.09, Germany: $8.26 and the U.S.: $4.46.

But the tweet is misleading, according to PolitiFact. The U.S. does not have "the cheapest gas prices on Earth" and Biden has little to do with the price.

The average price of a gallon of gas in the U.S., $4.87 as of June 6, compared with other prices around the world, is pretty much in the middle. The average global price for a gallon of gas is $5.35.

"(The claim) is true if you only look at Western Europe," University of Houston professor of petroleum engineering Ramanan Krishnamoorti told PolitiFact. "The U.S. is right smack in the middle of the pack when it comes to gas prices. At one end, you have Western Europe, and at the other are Saudi Arabia and Iran."

The U.S. is 67th out of a 170-country rank that lists Hong Kong the most expensive at $11.20 per gallon and Venezuela the cheapest at $0.08.

The president has little to do with the price of gas. The cost is generally lower in a country that produces its own oil. Other factors affecting the price include the pandemic, inflation and the Russian war.

• 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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