Stand up for the facts!

Misinformation isn't going away just because it's a new year. Support trusted, factual information with a tax deductible contribution to PolitiFact.

More Info

I would like to contribute

Jason Asenso
By Jason Asenso August 18, 2021

Image of email from Harvard 'terminating' a student is fake

If Your Time is short

  • The image of an email from Harvard saying it “terminated” a student because of their social media accounts is fake. 

An image of a fake email saying that Harvard "terminated" a student because of their social media accounts has been circulating online.

The email is purportedly from Harvard College’s Office of Undergraduate Education and reads:

"Dear student,

It is with a heavy heart we inform you that you are being terminated from Harvard. This comes as a result of speculating your social media accounts and we believe that you do not transmit a good representation of the school. We wish you well in any future endeavors.

Sincerely,"

The image then cuts off above the signature.

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

If the clumsy language weren’t enough of a tipoff, Harvard spokesperson Rachael Dane confirmed to both Reuters and the Associated Press that the email was fake.

The email in the image has a header from Harvard’s Office of Undergraduate Education. That  office does not handle expulsions; it is responsible for administering the undergraduate curriculum.

Featured Fact-check

"The Administrative Board, the Honor Council, and the Residential deans all govern student conduct," Dane said in an email with PolitiFact. "Social media isn’t relevant. If a student were harassing others, or in violation of a rule in the handbook, the relevant offices would govern."

The Harvard College Student Handbook does not limit what a student can or cannot do on social media. However, the handbook says expulsions could result from violating Harvard’s rules on academic integrity or from disciplinary action following a failure to adhere to their policies on issues including harassment, physical violence, and discrimination.

The expulsion of Harvard students isn’t often publicized, but there have been highly publicized instances where Harvard has revoked admission from incoming students because of posts circulating on social media.

In 2019, Harvard rescinded admission from Kyle Kashuv, gun advocate and survivor of the 2018 Parkland, Fla., school shooting after past evidence of him using racial slurs surfaced online.

Kashuv posted screenshots on Twitter of his emails with Harvard’s admission office after the school revoked his admission.

In one email, Harvard’s admissions office said it reserves the right to revoke admission from incoming students "if you engage or have engaged in behavior that brings into question your honesty, maturity, or moral character."

Our ruling

An email claimed that Harvard "terminated" a student because of their social media accounts.

The university told news agencies that the email was fake.

We rate this claim Pants on Fire!

Our Sources

Reuters, Fact Check-Harvard ‘termination’ letter is fake, Aug. 13, 2021

Associated Press, Harvard email saying student is ‘terminated’ is fake, Aug. 13, 2021

A Twitter post

Inside Higher Ed, Harvard rescinds admissions offer over applicant's past racist writings, June 24, 2019

The Harvard Crimson, Harvard Rescinds Acceptances for At Least Ten Students for Obscene Memes | New, June 5, 2017

The Harvard Crimson, Racially-Charged Messages Spark Controversy in Admitted Students Group Chat | News, April 5, 2016

Email interview with ​​Rachael Dane, spokesperson for Harvard, Aug, 17, 2021

The Huffington Post, Parkland Teen Kyle Kashuv, Former Turning Point USA Member, Apologizes For Racist Slurs, June 18, 2019

Harvard College Office of Undergraduate Education, About Us, accessed Aug. 18, 2021

Harvard College 2021-22 Harvard College Student Handbook, accessed Aug. 18, 2021

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Jason Asenso

Image of email from Harvard 'terminating' a student is fake

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up