Fact Check: Tlaib Did NOT File Lawsuit to Ban the American Flag in Schools

Fact Check

  • by: Maarten Schenk
Fact Check: Tlaib Did NOT File Lawsuit to Ban the American Flag in Schools Liberal Satire

Did Rashida Tlaib file a lawsuit that would ban the American flag from schools? No, that's not true. The story was published by a liberal satire website that tries to mislead Trump supporters and Republicans into sharing made up stories that are clearly marked as satire when you actually click them. Articles from the site are frequently copied by foreign-run fake news websites. The people liking and sharing these stories are enriching foreign website operators or a liberal from Maine via the ad revenue generated with the content which is probably not what they expected or wanted.

The story originated as an article (archived here) published by We Are ALLOD on March 19, 2020 under the title "Tlaib Files Lawsuit to Ban the American Flag in Schools". It opened:

Rashida Tlaib is busy at work during a national crisis that is keeping most school children at home. During this time, she's decided to swoop in and take advantage of an already terrible situation.

She wants crews to move in on these schools, they let you do that when you're a politician, and remove all of the American flags from every classroom in Michigan.

The argument for removing flags from all K-12 classrooms is simple. First, the lawsuit cites a rise in patriotism, which they feel must be "dealt with, stat."

The story was published in a category that read "SATIRE YOU CAN CRAP YOUR PANTS TO" and on a page with several satire logos and disclaimers.

The original story racked up about 4500 engagements on Facebook at the time of writing. However several copies of the story turned up on foreign-run fake news sites that removed the satire category and the disclaimers and those copies received tens of thousands of engagements so far from people who did not realize the article was satirical in nature.

The site that originally published the story is part of the "America's Last Line of Defense" (ALLOD) 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.

  Maarten Schenk

Maarten Schenk is the co-founder and COO/CTO of Lead Stories and an expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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