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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke September 22, 2020

No evidence this social media challenge is an IRS scheme to catch tax cheats

If Your Time is short

  • There’s no evidence that this social media challenge is connected to the IRS or pedophiles. 
 

If you search for the hashtag "FirstBorn" or "FirstBornChallenge" in Facebook, you’ll find social media posts from parents celebrating their first-born children and sharing photos of them. 

There have been lots of these kinds of posts during the pandemic. 

"In the absence of jam-packed calendars, people are turning to social media challenges in droves," the New York Times reported in April. "Some bring together families for choreographed dance routines while others spark the inner artist or unlock hidden engineering skills. All of them hold the promise of warding off boredom and — maybe — earning users a moment of online celebrity." 

But in the wake of social media users sharing photos of their first- and even second-born children, ominous warnings have emerged — without evidence. 

"Facebook is creating these #firstborn and #secondborn challenges so the IRS can confirm who y’all claiming on them taxes as dependents," one post says

"DELETE YOUR # firstbornchallenge POSTS!!!" another says. "I was recently sent something where it is said a pedo made the challenge to upload pictures of your babies on a porn site & get up information on you and your children for trafficking… and children are being sold from the challenge from a link."

"Pedophiles and rapists are real and this is how they hunt women and children … this is a set up," says a third. The post uses a hashtag connected to the QAnon conspiracy theory, which makes unfounded claims about a global child sex-trafficking ring.

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These posts were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) 

A spokesperson for Facebook told us in an email that the company didn’t create these challenges.

A spokesperson for the IRS told us: "The IRS does not use social media to validate information when processing tax return filings. The IRS respects taxpayer privacy, and this suggestion is simply not true."

In 2018, the IRS was looking for ways to use social media platforms like Facebook to catch tax cheats, Quartz reported at the time.  However, we found no evidence to support the claims that this challenge was planted by Facebook and the IRS or by a pedophile. 

"Historically," the New York Times reported in March, "internet challenges have taken hold when people have some time on their hands to get creative — usually during the summer."

If evidence emerges that this first-born challenge is related to nefarious or IRS activity, we’ll revisit this fact-check. But in the meantime, there’s nothing to support the creative claims people are making about it. 

We rate these posts False.

 

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No evidence this social media challenge is an IRS scheme to catch tax cheats

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