June 1, 2020 / 9:07 PM / a month ago

Fact check: Washington, D.C. did not have a city-wide blackout at 1 a.m. on June 1, 2020 

Social media users have been sharing content online that claims Washington, D.C. experienced a blackout in which electricity, internet and cellular communications were suspended in the early hours of June 1, 2020. The posts use different variations of “#DCblackout”. This claim appears to be baseless. 

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

Examples can be seen ( here ), ( here ) and ( here  ). 

One post reads: “#DCBlackout This picture is the last we saw before all media was cut at 1am. An entire city was on fire and suddenly went silent. We have no idea what is happening, we don’t know if the protestors are safe. No news channels are covering this. Something awful is going on.” ( here  ) 

NetBlocks.org, which tracks disruptions and shutdowns of networks, tweeted on June 1 that it found “no indication of a mass-scale internet disruption overnight or through the last 48 hours”. ( here ) Staff at Reuters D.C. bureau over this period did not experience any apparent blackout.  

Various journalists tweeted that they had not been affected by any communications disruption, with some having been active on social media throughout the night ( herehere ) . Black Lives Matter DC called the rumor fake in a tweet  here  . 

The Potomac Electric Power Company (PEPCO), that supplies electricity to DC and Maryland, did not release any statements about a blackout on its website or social media ( here twitter.com/PepcoConnect ). Pepco confirmed to Reuters via phone there were no outages in Washington, D.C. during the night. 

AlertDC, a communication system that delivers emergency alerts, did not release an alert for a power outage of any kind during the night of May 31 and June 1 ( here ).  

Large crowds of protesters may have contributed to a lack of signal or difficulty connecting via cell phones for some users, not uncommon at events with high numbers of people ( here  ,  here ). 

The claim came amid unrest in the nation’s capital, with protests following the death of a black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis on May 25. ( here

The posts making the false claims refer to protests that took place into the night of May 31, after D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered a “Citywide Curfew” from 11 p.m. on May 31, 2020 to 6 a.m. on June 1, 2020. Media and essential workers were exempt from the curfew ( here ). 

VERDICT 

False claim. There was no evidence of a power or communications outage in Washington, D.C. In the early hours of June 1, 2020.  

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts  here  .  

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