Fact Check: NO, Trump Is NOT Promising To Send Americans Checks Only After Checking People's Social Media History

Hoax Alert

  • by: Eric Ferkenhoff
Fact Check: NO, Trump Is NOT Promising To Send Americans Checks Only After Checking People's Social Media History

Did President Trump tweet that he had ordered the U.S. Treasury to send checks to Americans - but only after checking people's social media posts to make sure they were not unfavorable to the president. No, this is a satirical post: Whle Trump and Congress are hashing out details of a stimulus package to boost the economy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic - which has roiled markets worldwide - nothing has so far been made official.

Moreover, none of the negotiations or proposals have anything, at all, to do with Americans' social media habits. This is a fake tweet.

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) on Facebook on March 17, 2020, by user Real Fake Tweets - which should have been a giveaway that this is a hoax. But it has gained great traction on social media. The hoax tweet read:

Yes, I ordered the Treasury Secretary to send checks to Americans! First however, we will go through your social media history from the last 4 years and search for any post with #NotMyPresident in it. I wouldn't think of offending you with a check if I'm not your president! #MAGA

Users on Facebook saw this:

This is fake, but the post, which has a font and other markers that do not resemble an embedded tweet, has already been shared 19,000 times, with nearly 1,500 reactions and 800 comments. And that's just this single post.

The page, which features a picture of movie icon "Rocky" with a Trump head, has a disclaimer over a photo of Trump, declaring:

Disclaimer: All content on this page is fake and meant to be satirical. Do not believe anything you read here, no matter how bad you want it to be true.

Some 14,000 people follow the page, which has a goal of making "a fake tweet so realistic, it gets investigated by" fact-cheker Snopes. Related pages include Being Libertarian and the satirical site The Babylon Bee.

On a more serious note, the coronavirus - which prompted Trump to declare a national emergency and the World Health Organization to deem COVID-19 a global pandemic - has fueled discussion about a massive stimulus plan, with some ideas first floated by former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang. Yang had proposed stimulating the economy and helping less fortunate families by implenting a universal basic income, including sending Americans $1,000 checks every month.

The idea has now gone mainstream, even with Republicans, as it has been pushed by GOP Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah and gained steam in the Democratic House, the Republican-controlled Senate and the White House. According to Vox.com:

Before the US Senate has even passed the second coronavirus relief bill, it's already starting work on a massive third stimulus package the Trump administration estimates could cost $1 trillion.

It would be a massive injection of cash -- surpassing the bank bailout in the midst of the 2008 recession -- into an economy that's seen cratering stocks, spikes in unemployment claims, and reduced consumer spending, as the pandemic sweeps across the US. And, perhaps surprisingly, there's relatively bipartisan support -- at least for the idea of a huge stimulus, if not yet for specific proposals.

Lawmakers are referring to this as "Phase 3" of Congress's coronavirus response. Phase 1 was an $8.3 billion bill spurring coronavirus vaccine research and development, and Phase 2, once it's passed, will be an approximately $104 billion package largely focused on paid sick leave and unemployment benefits for workers and families. Phase 3 will be many times larger than both of the previous bills combined.

"We know an additional bill of much larger proportion is necessary to meet this crisis," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Tuesday. "If we bend the health care curve, that will determine how long this emergency lasts. And that has required extraordinary measures that basically have us in the unusual position of the American government in effect shutting down the American economy to meet these health concerns."

And, according to The Wall Street Journal:

The Trump administration backed a plan to send checks directly to Americans as part of a $1 trillion stimulus package to help households and businesses, a dramatic step designed to cushion the impact of the sudden economic slowdown triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin pitched Senate Republicans on a stimulus package that would include an initial $250 billion for direct payments, according to administration officials and lawmakers, part of a wide-ranging fiscal and monetary effort. One of the officials said the administration would push for additional direct payments beyond the $250 billion in the coming weeks, if needed.

"It is a big number. We've put a proposal on the table that would inject a trillion dollars into the economy," Mr. Mnuchin told reporters at the Capitol.

While it appears likely that Americans will see a cash infusion of some amount, this Facebook post is made up. Trump is not threatening to selectively send checks based on people's political leanings as they appear on social media, with particular exceptions for those who criticize the president with the hashtag #NotMyPresident.

Still, the clearly fake nature of the tweet didn't stop the wave of shares, including this one:

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  Eric Ferkenhoff

Managing Editor Eric Ferkenhoff has been a reporter, editor and professor for 27 years, working chiefly out of the Midwest and now the South. Focusing on the criminal and juvenile justice systems, education and politics, Ferkenhoff has won several journalistic and academic awards and helped start a fact-checking project at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he continues to teach advanced reporting. Ferkenhoff also writes and edits for the juvenile justice site JJIE.org.

 

Read more about or contact Eric Ferkenhoff

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