A Tall Tale about “Tarriffs”

Tall tales spread further and travel faster than the truth on social media. This Facebook post on May 19, 2019 alleges that Ivanka Trump’s Marc Fisher footwear line is exempt from U.S. tariffs imposed on goods imported from China. A critical news consumer can determine fairly quickly this is not true.

The first and most obvious red flag is that the word “tarriff” is misspelled. That’s a big enough mistake to consider this post suspect and to start digging deeper.

An easy way to determine whether a photo has been digitally altered is to do a reverse image search. All you do is drag and drop the image onto the Google image search bar or upload it into tineye.com. In three seconds, TinEye searched over 36.5 billion images and found 25 matches, none of which include the words, “Tarriff Exempt”. 

A closer look at who produced a post can also help determine whether it is trustworthy.  The owner of this Facebook account is listed as “A Thousand Words Graphic Arts”, and the About page reads, “A Visual Interpretation of Rock-n-Roll History, Current Issues, and Politics!” There’s little other information other than the owner’s address in Port St. Lucie, Florida, but a quick scan of recent activity reveals many other virulent anti-Trump posts–a further reason to be skeptical.

Another way to evaluate the credibility of this post is to determine whether Ivanka Trump’s footwear is made in China and subject to the tariffs in effect on May 19. A quick Google search reveals that although the footwear is indeed manufactured in China, Ivanka Trump disbanded her fashion company and licensing agreement with Marc Fisher nearly a year ago.

Furthermore, footwear is not among the products subject to the first round of tariffs imposed by the Trump administration at the time of this post, according to a Congressional Research Service report.

And now there’s a way to report these suspect posts on Facebook. Just click on the three dots in the top right-hand corner of any post. A drop-down menu will appear that includes the option, “Give feedback about this post”. Then select “False News” and hit send.


akeaway: News consumers have all the tools they need on the Internet to be their own fact-checkers when it comes to determining whether a photo has been digitally altered or information is misrepresented or outright false. If Facebook debunks the post, it will upload links to articles by fact-checkers—which is exactly what happened in the case of the “Tall Tale about Tarriffs”.