Fact Check: Liberals and BLM Did NOT Petition to Change the Name of the White House

Fact Check

  • by: Helena Cavendish de Moura
Fact Check: Liberals and BLM Did NOT Petition to Change the Name of the White House Trolling

Did liberals and Black Lives Matter petition to change the name of the White House? No, that's not true: This claim was made in a satirical article published by a satire website that trolls conservatives. Sometimes, these stories are stolen by other websites and republished as real.

The story originated as an article published by bustatroll.org on June 26, 2020 titled "Liberals and BLM Petition to Change the Name of the White House" (archived here) which opened:

The movement to strip history and heritage is reaching new levels of ridiculous heights. Liberals along with Black Lives Matter have started a petition that has over 25 million signatures to change the name of the White House to The People's House, stating that "White" is oppressive and racist. The White House has been named the White House since 1901 when Theodore Roosevelt named it that during his presidency. The change is being demanded after weeks of racial strife and protests across the United States.

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:

Liberals and BLM Petition to Change the Name of the White House

The movement wants to change the name of the White House, calling it oppressive and racist.

While the claim that "liberals and BLM" have started a petition to change the name of the place where the president lives and works is satire, there is a small amount of factual historical information in the story. As the story mentions, and according to WhiteHouseHistory.org's article titled How did the White House get its name?:

In 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt officially named the Executive Mansion the "White House". Before that, the White House had been called several names, including the "President's House", and the "Executive Mansion". Since nearly every U.S. state had an "executive mansion" for its governor, President Roosevelt believed the name "White House" would distinguish it as the official residence of the President of the United States.

The bustatroll.org site is part of the "America's Last Line of Defense" network of satire websites run by self-professed liberal troll Christopher Blair from Maine along with a loose confederation of friends and allies. He runs several websites and Facebook pages with visible satire disclaimers everywhere. They mostly publish made-up stories with headlines specifically created to trigger Republicans, conservatives and evangelical Christians into angrily sharing or commenting on the story on Facebook without actually reading the full article, exposing them to mockery and ridicule by fans of the sites and pages.

Every site in the network has an about page that reads (in part):

About Satire
Before you complain and decide satire is synonymous with "comedy":

The use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

Everything on this website is fiction. It is not a lie and it is not fake news because it is not real. If you believe that it is real, you should have your head examined. Any similarities between this site's pure fantasy and actual people, places, and events are purely coincidental and all images should be considered altered and satirical. See above if you're still having an issue with that satire thing.

Articles from Blair's sites frequently get copied by "real" fake news sites who omit the satire disclaimer and other hints the stories are fake. One of the most persistent networks of such sites is run by a man from Pakistan named Kashif Shahzad Khokhar (aka "DashiKashi") who has spammed hundreds of such stolen stories into conservative and right-wing Facebook pages in order to profit from the ad revenue.

When fact checkers point this out to the people liking and sharing these copycat stories some of them get mad at the fact checkers instead of directing their anger at the foreign spammers or the liberal satire writers. Others send a polite "thank you" note, which is much appreciated.

NewsGuard, a company that uses trained journalist to rank the reliability of websites, describes bustatroll.org as:

One in a network of sites that publish false stories and hoaxes that are often mistaken for real news, run by hoax perpetrator Christopher Blair.

According to NewsGuard the site does not maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability. Read their full assessment here.

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