A story about the killing of a Muslim refugee who had raped a child is false, using the name of a dead man known for promoting false news, an image of a suspect in an unrelated killing and a photo from after the Boston Marathon bombing.
Many conservative sites ran with a headline of an American teen who had killed a refugee who raped the teen’s 7-year-old sister. The victim’s name, the time of the purported killing and the place it happened weren’t mentioned.
The teen suspect was identified as Paul Horner. The real Paul Horner died last year at age 38 in Arizona. He was known for writing false stories and disseminating internet hoaxes that often went viral, including a story falsely claiming President Barack Obama was a radical Muslim.
The story was accompanied by a photo of a suspect in Buffalo, New York, who was sentenced for killing a toddler in 2014. Another image showed police approaching a Watertown, Massachusetts, home while looking for a man wanted in the 2013 Boston bombing. It later mentioned the suspect had been sentenced not for a killing, but for making prank calls to emergency officials.
This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.