A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. None of these are legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked them out. Here are the facts:
ClaimThere is no coin shortage. Coins get recirculated, they don’t just disappear. The government is trying to usher in a cashless society.
The factsNot so, says The Federal Reserve, which manages the country’s coin inventory. Coins aren’t being circulated because businesses are closed and sales are down during the pandemic. And the government isn’t pushing the U.S. into a cashless society, either. The U.S. Mint is actively producing more coins to alleviate the short supply.
Despite that, posts circulating widely on Facebook are suggesting that the shortage of coins in the U.S. is a hoax because it doesn’t make sense for the currency to have “disappeared.” The posts suggest a larger conspiracy is at play to usher us all into a “cashless” era.
The Federal Reserve has explained that the supply chain is severely disrupted by the pandemic.
“With establishments like retail shops, bank branches, transit authorities and laundromats closed, the typical places where coin enters our society have slowed or even stopped the normal circulation of coin,” the Federal Reserve said in a June statement.
The Federal Reserve has asked banks to only order the coins they need and to make depositing coins easy for customers. It also put together a task force of retail, bank and armored cash carrier leaders to brainstorm ways to normalize coin circulation again. The U.S. Mint, meanwhile, is moving at full speed to mint more coins, while minimizing its employees risk to COVID-19 exposure, the agency’s spokesman Michael White told the AP in an email. The Mint produced nearly 1.6 billion coins last month, White said, and is on track to average about 1.65 billion per month for the rest of the year. That’s up from an average of 1 billion coins per month last year, he said.
Claim Former President Barack Obama signed the law authorizing federal agents to “snatch” protesters off the streets in Portland, Oregon.
The facts The White House says 40 U.S Code 1315, under the Homeland Security Act of 2002, gives the Trump administration the authority to send armed federal agents to confront protesters in Portland. It was signed into law by President George W. Bush, not Obama. A false claim circulating on social media says people criticizing President Donald Trump for sending federal agents into Portland to clear protesters are ignoring the fact that Obama signed the law that allows for that to happen. “When everyone just blames Trump but forgets who actually signed the law authorizing federal agents to snatch protesters off the streets in Portland,” says an erroneous Facebook post shared more than 1,300 times with a photo of Obama smiling.
In early July, Trump sent federal agents to Portland to halt protests, arguing that it was necessary to protect federal buildings from protesters. State and local authorities oppose federal intervention and a lawsuit has been filed to stop the action. Trump is relying on the Department of Homeland Security in unprecedented ways as he tries to bolster his law and order credentials by making a heavy-handed show of force in cities around the nation in the lead-up to the November elections, the AP has reported.
Stephen Vladeck, professor at the University of Texas School of Law, said social media posts are falsely referencing the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 signed by Obama, saying that law authorizes the Trump administration to deploy federal agents.
“It’s simply preposterous,” Vladeck said. “That statute includes a controversial set of provisions concerning military detention, but it has absolutely nothing to do with what’s happening in Portland.”
The law, often referred to as NDAA, included detention provisions that could be interpreted to authorize indefinite military detention without charge or trial. When questioned about the legality of sending agents with tactical gear to confront protesters against the will of local officials in those cities, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany cited Section 1315 during Tuesday’s press briefing. McEnany claimed that Section 1315 “gives DHS the ability to deputize officers in any department or agency, like ICE, Customs and Border Patrol, and Secret Service” to protect property owned by the federal government. “And when a federal courthouse is being lit on fire, commercial fireworks being shot at it, being shot at the officers, I think that that falls pretty well within the limits of 40 U.S. Code 1315,” she said.
This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.