Fact Check: '867-5309' Is NOT A Number To Call To Report Maskless People -- It's From An Old Pop Song, And The Post Is A Joke

Fact Check

  • by: Kaiyah Clarke
Fact Check: '867-5309' Is NOT A Number To Call To Report Maskless People -- It's From An Old Pop Song, And The Post Is A Joke Jenny's # Song

Can people wanting to report someone for not wearing a mask do so by phoning "867-5309"? No, that's not true: The number that appears in the claim is the title of a popular 1980s song, "867-5309/ Jenny" by Tommy Tutone. This number has been trending as an inside joke for the past 40 years.

The claim appeared as a Facebook post (archived here), published on July 20, 2020, and then reappeared as recently as August 15, 2021. The text in both posts is the same:

To report someone for not wearing a mask call: 867-5309

This is what the post looked like on August 17, 2021:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Tue Aug 17 20:13:09 2021 UTC)

The song "867-5309," written by Alex Call and Jim Keller, was released November 19, 1981. It was performed by the power-pop band Tommy Tutone. In addition to the song being a mainstay on classic rock radio stations over the decades, it became a trending inside joke for people to dial 867-5309 and ask to speak to "Jenny."

tutuone vid.png

This is not the first time Lead Stories has addressed a claim that includes the sly inclusion of a phone number from a pop song as the reporting line to turn in non-mask-wearers to the authorities. Another fact check (this one using the number from a rap song) can be found here.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's real recommendations regarding mask-wearing can be found here.

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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.


  Kaiyah Clarke

Kaiyah Clarke is a fact-checker at Lead Stories. She is a graduate of Florida A&M University with a B.S. in Broadcast Journalism and is currently pursuing an M.S. in Journalism. When she is not fact-checking or researching counter-narratives in society, she is often found reading a book on the New York Times Bestseller List.

Read more about or contact Kaiyah Clarke

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