Fact Check: The CDC Did NOT Post A Tweet Encouraging Shoplifting

Fact Check

  • by: Victoria Eavis
Fact Check: The CDC Did NOT Post A Tweet Encouraging Shoplifting Fake Tweet

Did the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) post a tweet encouraging people to shoplift to slow the spread of COVID-19? No, that's not true: This is a fabricated image of a tweet. tweet "does not come from our Twitter account or any other CDC official channel," said Belsie González, a senior public affairs specialist for the CDC.

The claim appeared in an Instagram post (archived here) where it was published on December 18, 2020, with the caption "Thank you @cdcgov." The screenshot of the fake tweet read:

It is more ethical to shoplift and leave the store to prevent the spread of COVID-19 than it is to wait in line and pay. Please protect others. For more information about the coronavirus please refer to cdc.gov/coronavirus/20...

This is what the Instagram looked like at the time of posting:

Although this screenshot looks like a tweet, there is no evidence that the official CDC Twitter account ever posted that message. In a keyword Twitter search, this tweet does not appear:

Screen Shot 2020-12-22 at 10.59.17 AM.png

Even if the CDC had deleted such a message, the CDC Twitter account rarely posts in the format that appears in the fake posted to Instagram. Tweets from @CDCgov about COVID-19 almost always include some sort of media like a photo, a graphic, or a video, not just stand-alone text like the Instagram post features. If the CDC did tweet something like this about shoplifting, there would have been backlash online, but Lead Stories found none.

What's more, the Instagram account that posted this fake tweet, @corysnearowsk, has posted satirical tweets in the past:

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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.


  Victoria Eavis

Victoria Eavis is a fact checker at Lead Stories. She recently graduated from Duke University with a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology. In her last few months at Duke, she was a reporter for a student news site, The 9th Street Journal, that covers the city of Durham, North Carolina. 

Read more about or contact Victoria Eavis

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