March 12, 2020 / 9:49 PM / 20 days ago

False claim: Obama’s daughter arrested

Shared over 1,400 times as of March 11, 2020, a post (here) on a page called "Freedom of Thought" says, "Malia Obama Arrested Again, Complete Media Blackout" and links to an article ( here ) on a satirical site called Daily World Update. Though the slogan of Daily World Update is "satire for flat Earthers, Trumpsters and y'all Qaeda," many users who interacted with this post appeared to take it seriously. The link was also shared over 1,000 times from the page "Keep America Great Again" ( here ) and over 600 times from the page "Send Them All to Prison" ( here ).

The article includes a photoshopped mugshot of Malia Obama, using this photo from Getty Images ( here ) of Malia walking in New York City on April 18, 2017. Intended as a joke, the article on the satirical Daily World Update page includes several hoax claims about Malia Obama, now an undergraduate student at Harvard University, such as reference to her "arrest in 2016 for providing her little sister’s Girl Scout troop with 'enough whip-its to drop a team of well-kept alpacas.'" The use of "whip-it" here refers to the slang term for the recreational use of nitrous oxide ( here ). 

The site claims, “Malia was busted by campus security at Harvard as she and a friend were caught using a ‘white, powdery substance’ in the women’s shower room.” Suggesting that Malia and her friend were in possession of cocaine, the article claims she was “held at the Harvard County Jail — which is nestled between Middlesex and Essex counties — but she was released the next day” after “the family’s lawyer got them off.” Harvard County does not exist, as Harvard University is in Cambridge, Massachusetts, part of Middlesex County.

Though the original content was intended as satire, it has since been shared out of context and users were therefore misled into thinking it was real. The post on “Freedom of Thought,” for example, does not have a caption marking it as satire, just a link to the article with the headline “Malia Obama Arrested Again, Complete Media Blackout.” Users’ comments on the “Freedom of Thought” post include “ And yet the Press can go after [President Trump’s] wife and kids! WOW!!” while another added, “The media is not honest in any way!”.


False: Malia Obama was not arrested for cocaine possession. The claim originated in an article on a satirical site that was shared out of context as if it were true.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact checking work here .

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