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Not real news: A look at what didn’t happen this week

🕐 3 min read

Here’s the AP’s roundup of some of the most popular, but completely untrue, headlines of the week. None of these stories are legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked these out; here are the real facts:

NOT REAL: Illegal Alien Charged With California Wildfire That Killed 40 People

THE FACTS: A homeless man from Mexico was arrested on suspicion of arson Sunday in California, but a Sonoma County sheriff’s official says the fire doesn’t appear to be linked to the wildfires that have killed dozens. Sgt. Spencer Crum tells The Associated Press the blaze was a small fire in a park that was quickly put out. Several websites have sought to connect the man to the California wine country fires. Acting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Thomas Homan says in a statement that the agency issued a detainer against the Mexican citizen, calling the charge troubling “especially in light of the massive wildfires already devastating the region.”

NOT REAL: Oregon Governor Abolishes State’s Second Amendment Rights With Stroke Of The Pen

THE FACTS: It’s still legal to own a gun in Oregon, despite a story from Liberty One that says a new law allows state officials to confiscate guns “from the possession of free individuals.” The law signed in August by Gov. Kate Brown allows a law enforcement officer or household member to obtain a protective order banning a person from weapons possession if a court finds the person is at risk of harming someone else or themselves.

NOT REAL: Pope Francis Absolves 2,000 Pedophile Priests – “No Arrests Necessary”

THE FACTS: A May story that recirculated last week from conspiracy theory outlet YourNewsWire says Francis announced that “over 2,000 pedophile priests will not face criminal prosecution and may be absolved by the Vatican.” Francis acknowledged to reporters on May 13 that the Vatican has a 2,000-case backlog in processing clerical sex abuse cases, but said the church was bringing in more staff to handle the cases. Francis denied on the same day ever agreeing to a request for clemency from a pedophile priest.

NOT REAL: Bananas in Oklahoma Walmart Test Positive for HIV Virus

THE FACTS: This story from Healthy Living Base is the latest incarnation of a hoax that has been circulating for years, falsely saying bananas purchased at a Walmart in Tulsa, Oklahoma, infected a 10-year-old by with the AIDS virus. When the AP asked Walmart about that specific claim in June a spokeswoman said the Bentonville, Arkansas, company didn’t know of any illnesses such as HIV linked to bananas purchased at its stores. Walmart says the red streaks seen in some bananas come from a naturally occurring, harmless bacterial growth known as mokillo.

NOT REAL: This New Zealand Town Will Give You A Home And A Job For $165K

THE FACTS: The New Zealand town of Kaitangata has a population of 800 and lots of vacant jobs, but it isn’t offering any money or employment to entice people to move there. Real estate agents in the rural area offered to sell new residents a house and land for about $165,000 last year, but some outlets have falsely reported the town planned to pay residents that amount and give them a new career to move there. The Clutha District, which includes Kaitangata, has tried to clear up the confusion with a post on its website.

This feature is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

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