It happens each time there's a national tragedy. The rumors come out. The fake stories abound. And for the Boston Marathon bombing, it's been no different. From conspiracy theorists spouting off about false flags to Sandy Hook Elementary School tie-ins and everything in between, the Boston bombing myths have spread like wildfire.
People keep on sharing them, and until they know different, they likely will keep the insanity going. So here's your chance to make a difference. Here are the truths about the Boston bombing, your ammunition to stop the myths and lies:
1. The Death Toll. As of press time, there have been three confirmed deaths. One is indeed a child, 8-year-old Martin Richard. Reports of two children dead and reports of a Sandy Hook survivor being killed at the marathon were both completely untrue. There was also a rumor that a young girl running for Sandy Hook had died, fueled by a photo of a young runner that's gone viral. That photo has been debunked by the folks at the Joe Casella Foundation, who say it's being used fraudulently. The other two murdered by a cowardly bomber on Monday are both adults: 29-year-old Krystle Campbell and a Boston University student. The latter is a 23-year-old Chinese national whose name is being withheld until other members of her family are notified.
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2. Cellphones. The rumors started shortly after the bombing that cellphone service in the Boston area had been shut down for fear that another bomb would be detonated with a mobile device. Coming from the Associated Press, this one seemed legitimate ... that is until the AP rescinded its report. Service was spotty, but that's because there were so many calls being made and received, many from worried family members.
3. False Flag. This rumor really got going when pro-wrestler "Bionic" Dan Bidondi, an InfoWars radio host, managed to get called on during a Boston Police press conference and asked -- on national television -- "Is this another false flag staged attack to take our civil liberties and promote homeland security while sticking their hands down our pants on the streets?" Basically, he was asking if the US government orchestrated the bombing so they could pin it on some terrorist organization. Really, we shouldn't have to debunk this one for you, folks. The fact that no terrorist organization has been blamed should tell you that this is ludicrous.
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4. Mystery Man on the Roof. A Twitter user uploaded a photo that seemed to show a man walking on the roof of one of the buildings in the background behind the chaos on Boylston Street, and the theories that he was to blame for the bombings started percolating. While this hasn't been completely discounted, during the Boston PD press conference, officials would only say that they were following any and all leads. The Smoking Gun did learn that the building in question is a luxury apartment building with a roof deck. The man could be nefarious, or he could have just been a tenant taking advantage of the great view on Marathon Monday.
5. Sandy Hook Principal Dawn Hochsprung Is Alive. The conspiracy theorists still haven't given up on their ridiculous claims that 20-some kids were killed just as a giant publicity stunt. Now they're spreading a photo of Sandy Hook's deceased principal paired with a photo supposedly from a Fox News broadcast about a woman named "Donna" who was near the bomb blast. The two are said to be one and the same. Only the Fox News broadcast about Donna is a fake. Go ahead, Google it. You won't be able to find real evidence of Fox News interviewing a Donna who survived the bombing.
6. Family Guy Predicted the Bombing. Fox has pulled a Family Guy episode that dealt with the Boston Marathon, but it's not because of some creepy prognostication. There was a bomb in the March episode, but the clip that puts it at the marathon was doctored.
7. Retweets Will Fund Donations. A Twitter account, @_BostonMarathon, was disabled by the service after it was determined that the message "For every retweet we receive we will donate $1 to the #BostonMarathon victims #PrayForBoston" was fake.
8. Description of the Bomber. A Facebook page showing CCTV images of a man said to be the bomber and rumors that the bomber is dark-skinned are untrue. At press time, the FBI does not have a suspect. In fact, Rick DesLauriers, head of the FBI’s Boston office, has said, "The range of suspects and motives remains wide open."
9. JFK Library Bombing. While the JFK Library has been closed indefinitely, the FBI has confirmed there was a fire inside around the time of the bombings at the marathon finish line, not a bomb. Whether the two are connected is still under investigation.
10. Girl Died Before Boyfriend Could Propose. Rumormongers are once again stealing from Sandy Hook (remember one teacher's boyfriend planned to propose at Christmas?) to describe a now famous image of a man in a red shirt leaning over a female victim on the ground. In truth, the only women who died at the scene are mentioned above, and there has been zero evidence that either had a boyfriend about to propose.
See any of these out there, and please, tell people they're fake! The misinformation won't stop moving along until people stop sharing it on social media!
Did you believe anything on this list?
Image via Mark Z./Flickr