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Purported Canadian memo about anti-Biden phrase is fabricated

October 18, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: Canadian government agency Shared Services Canada sent a memo to employees banning them from using the phrase “Let’s Go Brandon” or risk being fired “without recourse or labor union participation.”

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The memo, which purports to ban employees from referencing a meme popular among critics of President Joe Biden, was fabricated. Shared Services Canada confirmed to The Associated Press that the letter being shared online did not come from the agency and does not reflect existing policies.

THE FACTS: Over the weekend, social media users and conservative outlets shared an image of a letter they falsely claimed was an official memo from a Canadian government agency directing employees not to use a phrase that has become a slogan used by opponents of Biden.

The falsified memo from Shared Services Canada, which used the image of the Canadian flag in its letterhead and was dated Oct. 14, said federal employees were banned from using the phrase “Let’s Go Brandon” in any variation, under any circumstance, and violators of the policy could be fired. Online posts echoed the false language.

The phrase “Let’s go Brandon,” refers to a meme that emerged earlier this month from a video of an interview with NASCAR driver Brandon Brown. In the background, the crowd could be heard chanting an expletive about Biden. A reporter said on air that the fans were chanting “Let’s go Brandon,” when video footage indicates the actual chant was “F--- Joe Biden.”

Some people have suggested the reporter purposefully misinterpreted the crowd’s chant and the quote has become a catchphrase among critics of Biden.

Shared Services Canada, which is responsible for providing information technology services across federal agencies, told the AP that the letter circulating on social media is not a real memo from the department.

“We can confirm this message was not issued by Shared Services Canada and it does not reflect departmental policy,” an agency spokesperson wrote in an email.

The doctored memo was shared Sunday afternoon by a Twitter user whose profile location is listed as Richmond, Virginia, and who had only a few dozen followers at the time. The user said in a tweet that the photo was sent to them in a direct message from a Canadian friend. The user also tagged several high-profile U.S.-based conservative commentators while sharing the image.

The fake memo gained further attention Sunday night after it was shared by the president of a self-described libertarian public policy think tank in Canada, and was subsequently picked up by several right-leaning news outlets.

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This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.