Viral claims, political confusion and a whole lot of fake photos spread online in 2018. All year we’ve been verifying what’s true and false.
Here are the top 10 false claims of 2018 (in no specific order):
1. Astronauts didn't sneak a bag of marijuana on the International Space Station
A doctored photo showed Canadian astronaut and former Commander of the International Space Station Chris Hadfield holding a bag of what appeared to be marijuana. But the real photo showed that the bag actually contained Easter eggs.
2. Robots can't walk exactly like humans
Famous illusionist Derren Brown shared a video of a human-like robot walking across a parking lot in August. But the robot actually wasn't real -- video editors used special effects and CGI to make the video.
3. An anonymous text did not lead to sex trafficking websites
In September, many people reported receiving a text message that linked to a "sex trafficking site that puts a tracker on your phone." But we found that the text actually asked recipients to download IRL, an app that allows users to invite other people to make plans and hang out.
4. The "presidential alert" couldn't access your phone's location, camera or microphone
On October 3, the government tested the nationwide Wireless Emergency Alert System (you probably remember getting a text about it). Some were concerned that the alert would allow the government to access their phone's location, cameras or microphones. But FEMA, the FCC and mobile providers all said the Wireless Emergency Alert System could not access consumers' phones.
5. The White House didn't intentionally edit a question out of Trump's press conference with Putin
In July, President Donald Trump answered questions during a press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. MSNBC host Rachel Maddow claimed that the White House edited the video to remove a question about whether Putin wanted Trump to win the 2016 presidential election.
The White House did not respond to Verify's requests for comment, but we weren't able to verify that the White House intentionally cut out the question. Read more here.
6. Christine Blasey Ford did not appear naked in fake photos
Shortly after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was publicly named as the person who accused then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, several photos were shared online that appeared to show her naked. But we found that two of the photos were completely different women, not Blasey Ford.
7. Senators can not order an FBI investigation
After Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in September, there was some confusion about whether senators could order an FBI investigation. Throughout the hearings, chairman of the committee Sen. Chuck Grassley said ordering an FBI investigation was outside of his power. We verified that senators can not order an investigation; only the president can do that.
8. Supreme Court justices won't automatically lose their seat if they are found guilty of a criminal or civil charge
After Kavanaugh was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in September, there were questions about whether a Supreme Court justice could still face criminal or civil charges in their role and whether they would be removed from the court if they were found guilty.
We found that while justices and all judges are granted "judicial immunity" for lawsuits related to cases or trials they oversee, for crimes or actions committed outside their role, they face the same punishments and judicial actions as any other US citizen. The difference is that a justice on the Supreme Court won't lose their seat if they're found guilty. The only way a justice can be removed from their position is by an act of Congress.
9. Dishwashers won't protect your valuables if your home is flooded
When Hurricane Florence hit the Carolinas in September 2018, thousands of people shared different tips about how to stay safe. We verified which claims were true and false. Read all the claims here.
10. Viral photo of Anderson Cooper in "deep" water was not taken during Hurricane Florence
A photo of CNN journalist Anderson Cooper standing in waist-deep water went viral on social media after Hurricane Florence devastated the Carolinas. People online, including President Donald Trump's son, shared the photo as an example of members of the press "staging" news. But the photo was actually taken in 2008 when Cooper and his team covered Hurricane Ike.