Fact Check: Florida Man NOT Arrested For Robbery Using Cough As A Weapon

Hoax Alert

  • by: Ryan Cooper
Fact Check: Florida Man NOT Arrested For Robbery Using Cough As A Weapon

In a story related to the novel coronavirus, was a Florida man arrested for robbery after using his cough as a weapon? No, that's not true: The story originated on a site that has the tag line "satirical news." The image was created using breakyourownnews.com, a known prank generator site. Another Internet user shared the made-up image as a meme but dropped the satire labeling.

The claim originated from a satirical image (archived here) published by Danking News on February 23, 2020, under the title "Corona virus: Florida man arrested for robbery using cough as a weapon." It opened:

BREAKING NEWS: "If you call the police I will cough"
Corona virus: Florida man arrested for robbery using cough as a weapon

Users on social media saw this:

The post on Danking News did not contain a written article. Instead, it showcased the fake "breaking news" image that appears like a local news screenshot - complete with a chyron, ticker, and breaking news branding.

Internet users can easily create images such as this using fake news generator sites. The Breaking News Generator site allows anyone to pick a headline, ticker text, and a customized image. Here's the description on the main page:

Today's top story... you! Or, whatever you want. Add your pic, write the headline and we'll go live to the scene. Sort of.

The Instagram user @shanghaiobserved shared the image without the satire notation that was on the original site, and that post has generated thousands of likes and engagements. Some readers may have been duped into believing it was a true story, but the incident never happened.

Want to inform others about the accuracy of this story?

See who is sharing it (it might even be your friends...) and leave the link in the comments.:

Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.


  Ryan Cooper

Ryan Cooper, a staff writer and fact-checker for Lead Stories, is the former Director of Programming at CNN International, where he helped shape the network's daily newscasts broadcast to more than 280 million households around the world. He was based at the network's Los Angeles Bureau. There, he managed the team responsible for a three-hour nightly program, Newsroom LA.

Formerly, he worked at the headquarters in Atlanta, and he spent four years at the London bureau. An award-winning producer, Cooper oversaw the network's Emmy Award-winning coverage of the uprising in Egypt in 2011. He also served as a supervising producer during much of the network's live reporting on the Israel-Hezbollah conflict in 2006, for which CNN received an Edward R. Murrow Award.

Read more about or contact Ryan Cooper

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