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NOT REAL NEWS: A look at what didn’t happen this week

The Associated Press

A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue headlines of the week. None of these stories is legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked these out; here are the real facts:


FILE - In this Monday, Nov. 27, 2017 file photo, first lady Melania Trump pauses as a ballerina performs a piece from The Nutcracker behind her among the 2017 holiday decorations in the Grand Foyer of the White House in Washington. On Friday, Feb. 9, 2018, The Associated Press has found that stories circulating on the internet that Melania Trump hired an exorcist to cleanse the White House of Obama demons are untrue. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

NOT REAL: Melania Trump hired exorcist to ‘cleanse White House of Obama demons’

THE FACTS: Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for the first lady, said the multiple reports that Melania Trump had a ceremony to rid the White House of demons are “not true in any way.” The stories come from a broadcast with Indiana pastor and radio host Paul Begley, who said that Mrs. Trump said at her husband’s presidential inauguration that she would not move in to the White House until the residence was exorcised.


FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018 file photo, President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting with Russian Olympic athletes at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside in Moscow, Russia. On Friday, Feb. 9, 2018, The Associated Press has found that stories circulating on the internet that Putin issued an international arrest warrant for philanthropist George Soros are untrue. (Grigory Dukor/Pool Photo via AP)

NOT REAL: Putin issues international arrest warrant for George Soros

THE FACTS: The Kremlin denied issuing a warrant for the billionaire liberal philanthropist, a frequent target of false news stories. It refuted multiple sites’ claims that Putin had banned Soros from Russia last year for trying to destabilize its economy in the early 1990s. Soros is not wanted by any country for arrest and extradition, according to a list compiled by the international law enforcement organization Interpol.


FILE - In this Friday, Feb. 9, 2018 file photo, fireworks explode after the Olympic flame was lit during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. On Friday, Feb. 9, 2018, The Associated Press has found that stories circulating on the internet that the death toll is rising rapidly from an outbreak of norovirus at the games are untrue. Norovirus is a common, infections bug that causes unpleasant symptoms but usually doesn’t require medical attention. (Sean Haffey/Pool Photo via AP)

NOT REAL: BREAKING: Rare HIGHLY Contagious Virus Spreading Like Wildfire… Death Toll Rising RAPIDLY

THE FACTS: The story appearing on the AmericasFreedomFighters site correctly reports an outbreak of norovirus at the Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, with a total of 128 infected in the past week. The headline incorrectly reports that any of the cases has resulted in death. Norovirus is a common, infectious bug that causes unpleasant symptoms including diarrhea and vomiting but usually doesn’t require medical attention.


NOT REAL: NASA will pay you $18,000 to stay in bed and smoke weed for 70 straight days

THE FACTS: NASA has been willing to pay people willing to stay in bed to give scientists information on how the body adapts to weightlessness. But none of the studies involved marijuana use. The agency also hasn’t conducted bed rest studies in some time. NASA has denied this false story before, which has recirculated over the past several months.


NOT REAL: Oprah’s California estate destroyed by deadly flash floods and mudslides

THE FACTS: Winfrey shared in an Instagram post after the January mudslides devastated the coastal town of Montecito that her property was OK. “Some mud and minor damage that pales in comparison to what my neighbors are going thru,” she wrote. Several stories shared on social media that reported her home was destroyed also focused on Winfrey’s Golden Globes speech on gender and racial inequality and talk of a possible presidential candidacy.


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.