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.
I would like to contribute
If Your Time is short
Barack Obama has not been arrested. The false claim is connected to the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory.
The video cited in the post shows Obama visiting the cell where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned in South Africa.
A conspiracy theory linked to QAnon is using footage from 2013 to falsely claim former President Barack Obama is behind bars.
In a video published Jan. 17, Gage Nelson, host of the conservative podcast America Divided, said: "Barack Obama was arrested."
"With over 30,000 National Guard troops in DC, the rumor on the street is that, on Jan. 20, many people are going to jail," he said. "Now there’s a video of Barack Obama in a jail cell."
The clip 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.) It was more than 42,000 views.
Video evidence of Obama in jail sounds like a shocking scoop. But the footage Nelson shared doesn’t show that — it shows Obama visiting the cell where Nelson Mandela was held during South Africa’s apartheid government.
The same clip was published by the Guardian on YouTube. It shows Obama looking around the cell on Robben Island where Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years. The Obamas visited the former prison in June 2013.
Watch for yourself below:
Unproven claims that Democrats will be arrested in the lead-up to Joe Biden’s inauguration have circulated on social media over the past few weeks. They’re related to the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory, which says President Donald Trump will soon announce mass arrests and executions of Democrats who are part of an underground child sex trafficking ring.
We reached out to the Obama Foundation for a comment, but we haven’t heard back.
The Facebook post is inaccurate and ridiculous. We rate it Pants on Fire!
Facebook post, Jan. 17, 2021
PolitiFact, "QAnon posts evade Facebook ban before Inauguration Day," Jan. 13, 2021
PolitiFact, "What is QAnon, the baseless conspiracy spilling into US politics?" Aug. 27, 2020
The White House, "FLOTUS Travel Journal: Robben Island, An Experience We Will Never Forget," June 30, 2013
YouTube video from the Guardian, July 2, 2013
Read About Our Process
In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.