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Joshua Gillin
By Joshua Gillin February 9, 2017

Donald Trump did not make English the official language of the United States

A headline on an article posted on several websites falsely declares that President Donald Trump has made English the language of the land.

"Breaking! President Trump makes English the official language of the United States!" the headline reads.

It’s obvious in the story that follows, which discusses changes on the White House website, that something was lost in translation.

We first saw the headline on on Jan. 26, 2017, but it has appeared on other sites in subsequent days. Facebook flagged the story as part of its efforts to combat fake news in user feeds.

First off, English may be the de facto language of the United States, but the country has no designated official language. A majority of states do have laws making English their official language, albeit to varying degrees.

Trump also did not elevate English in any official capacity, although he has certainly made it clear he would prefer citizens (including fluent Spanish speaker and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush) speak it.

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"Well, I think that when you get right down to it, we're a nation that speaks English," Trump said at a 2015 news conference. "I think that, while we're in this nation, we should be speaking English."

This is a prime example of a certain type of fake news story that spins news of a real event, then slaps a provocative and largely unrelated headline on it in an attempt to draw eyeballs.

In this case, the body of the story clearly advocates for adopting English as an official language, and says Trump should do so. But the only news event alluded to is about the official White House website losing its Spanish translation after Trump was inaugurated.

The post cites an article from the Los Angeles Times, which points out the translation option had been removed from on Jan. 20. As of Feb. 9, the Spanish translation of the White House website was still gone.

The story making the rounds on the Internet, meanwhile, says Trump purposely directed his administration to remove the translation.

Even if that were true — and there’s no solid evidence that’s the case — it’s far from making English the nation’s official language. That would require legislation through Congress, which has been proposed in the past but never became law.

This incendiary headline woefully misrepresents the actual event to which it is tied. We rate it Pants On Fire!

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Donald Trump did not make English the official language of the United States

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