Have you seen what appears to be a screenshot from a news article about President Joe Biden’s dog Commander trying to communicate with something in the White House? It’s a creepy story, to be sure. But it’s completely fake.
The fake screenshot starts off innocently enough, quoting an anonymous person at the White House who refers to President Biden’s dog as “aggressive.” Commander the dog has indeed been in the news recently for biting Secret Service agents on multiple occasions. But then the story in the fake screenshot starts to get weird.
“According to two separate sources who adamantly refused to be named, the dog could sometimes be seen wandering the White House halls at night, sounding out a bizarre ‘clicking’ noise. One wondered aloud whether the dog might have been communicating with something,” the viral screenshot reads.
There’s absolutely no evidence that these words have appeared in any real news story online and was created to spread misinformation.
The story, which seems to have originated on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, has been viewed by over 1.8 million people at the time of this writing. The only other place the words appear online are on Reddit, though the story likely didn’t originate there.
Aside from the fact that the text doesn’t show up anywhere else online, there are other clues that this whole thing is fake, including the line that sources “adamantly refused” to be named. Anyone who consumes a lot of news articles will find that kind of wording to be out of place for most straight news reporting.
X has always struggled with being a source for bad information, but the problem seems to have gotten much worse since billionaire Elon Musk bought the platform in October 2022. Musk got rid of the old blue checkmark system, which previously used to verify the identity of users. But now anyone with $8 to spend can buy a checkmark, which also boosts the user’s visibility in X’s algorithm.
That boost has helped propel factually inaccurate stories in recent months, including a claim that Ebola was spreading at Burning Man and the idea that New York was setting up quarantine camps for people with covid-19. Some blue checkmark accounts have even claimed the nationwide emergency alert test that’s happening on October 4 will “activate” something within the covid-19 vaccine and start a zombie apocalypse.
X’s Community Notes program, which was previously called Bird Watch before Musk bought the platform, is typically pretty good about trying to correct bad information. But the fake story about Commander the dog and his creepy “clicking” noise hasn’t gotten a note yet. Hopefully that happens soon, but with almost 2 million people who’ve already read the fake story, who knows what kind of dent it will make.