The Obama Foundation didn’t tweet an image of George Floyd eight days before his death
CLAIM: A tweet from the Obama Foundation featuring a picture of George Floyd went out on May 17, more than a week before his death, suggesting the nonprofit was aware of Floyd well before he died.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The Obama Foundation simply updated its Twitter card image after Floyd’s death, which changed the preview image for the website when it’s linked on Twitter. That retroactively changed the image appearing on previous tweets pointing to the site.
THE FACTS: About two weeks after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis on May 25, social media users noticed something curious: A tweet from the Obama Foundation on May 17 displayed a picture of a George Floyd poster.
“Did you tune in to @BarackObama’s commencement message last night?” the tweet read. “Here are a few of our favorite watch parties.”
Along with the message, it linked to the Obama Foundation’s website. The link displayed an image of a protester holding a George Floyd poster with the words “This is America.”
Posts about the tweet circulated widely on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube over the weekend. Social media users speculated that it proved the nonprofit knew something about George Floyd several days before he died.
“How Did the Obama Foundation Tweet a George Floyd Poster on May 17, when he wasn’t Killed until May 25?” read a headline from the Hal Turner Radio Show, a conservative talk show in New Jersey. The story racked up nearly 200,000 views on Facebook over the weekend.
But a peek into the code behind the Obama Foundation’s website reveals that the image that originally displayed with the tweet is different than the image that displays now.
Any website can designate a Twitter card image to appear in tweets that link to that site. On May 17, tweets pointing to the Obama Foundation site featured a picture of President Barack Obama in graduation robes. On June 8, they featured a picture of a George Floyd poster.
On Twitter, when a website updates the image that’s designated to appear in tweets, the image will update on existing tweets that link to that site, in addition to newly created tweets.
A version of the site that was archived on May 17 contained code showing that, at the time, the graduation photo of Obama was designated as the image to appear in tweets.
There is no evidence that the foundation was aware of Floyd in any capacity before his death.
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.
Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536