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:
CLAIM: Maps of recent wildfires in the Pacific Northwest show the fires stop abruptly at the Canadian border.
THE FACTS: Maps circulating on social media with this claim include only American data. Canada has its own fire mapping system, which shows there are fires burning in British Columbia, just north of the western U.S. Social media posts this week noted what seemed like a curious phenomenon: Wildfire maps show the blazes stretch across much of the western United States, but end at the Canadian border. Facebook users joked that the fires must “lack Canadian passports” and called it a “geographical oddity.” A Twitter user in Canada said he was “gratified to see” that climate change stops at the 49th parallel. “Must be that carbon tax,” he wrote. The maps were also shared by Emerald Robinson, a White House correspondent for Newsmax. “If the fires in Oregon & Washington are ‘climate change’ then why do the fires stop at the Canadian border?” she wrote in a tweet shared nearly 4,000 times. The answer is that these maps only show American data. One map shared in several social media posts, for example, is a “USA Wildfires” map from the geographic information system software supplier Esri. It shows more than 100 wildfires in the western United States but doesn’t display Canada’s fires. Canadians are seeing some fires, and have also endured unhealthy air quality levels as strong winds blow smoke and ash particles from U.S. fires to the north, the AP has reported. But British Columbia’s wildfire season has been less severe than that of Washington, Oregon and California this year thanks to cooler and wetter conditions in that part of Canada this summer, according to Lori Daniels, a forestry professor at the University of British Columbia. Weather patterns originating in California that have exacerbated the fires along the West Coast of the U.S. became weaker as they traveled north to Canada, Daniels told the AP. Scientists say climate change has contributed to more intense wildfires in both countries in recent years. “This is everywhere,” Daniels said. “We’re all experiencing extreme temperatures, extreme droughts, extreme fires driven by those droughts, and they are the hallmarks of climate change.”
– Associated Press writer Ali Swenson contributed this report.
CLAIM: Antifa is now carrying chainsaws, cutting down utility poles and starting more fires as wildfires rage across the Pacific Northwest.
THE FACTS: There is no evidence that antifa activists have wielded chainsaws, cut down utility poles or started any of the fires currently spreading across Washington, Oregon and California. Public officials in the Pacific Northwest have been fighting misinformation along with deadly wildfires as a surge of false posts on social media blame the fires on antifa, short for anti-fascist, a range of far-left militant groups that oppose white supremacists. “Oh boy!” read one false Facebook post on Sunday that was shared more than 3,300 times in 24 hours. “ANTIFA is now carrying chain saws, and cutting down utility poles, and starting more fires. Is there any doubt that we have a war on our hands now?” Oregon State Police Capt. Tim Fox told The Associated Press on Monday he had not received any reports of antifa activists using chainsaws or cutting down utility poles. Also, the FBI on Friday issued a statement saying it had investigated several claims about extremist groups starting the fires in Oregon, and found them to be untrue. The claim emerged in the days after a public Zoom meeting in Oregon’s Clackamas County on Sept. 10, when a captain from the sheriff’s office said he had received reports of “suspected antifa” agitators “armed with chainsaws” near Estacada, Oregon. “The goal was to fall telephone poles in hopes of starting further fires,” Capt. Jeff Smith said in the meeting. Smith also mentioned reports of people in extremist groups “staging gas cans for later destruction.”…