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- There’s no evidence that the tweet is legitimate.
Conspiracy theories quickly swirled around the death of technology entrepreneur John McAfee in a Barcelona prison where he was awaiting extradition to the U.S. on tax evasion charges.
Spain’s El País newspaper reported that McAfee, who developed the first commercial antivirus software for computers in the 1980s, had committed suicide, citing police sources. His lawyer told Reuters that the 75-year-old British-American took his own life out of despair.
But rumors linked to the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory — whose followers believe Democrats and celebrities are involved in an underground child-trafficking ring — suggested it was not suicide, but part of a cover-up. QAnon adherents often seize on major news stories to promote their beliefs.
A June 25 Instagram post appears to link McAfee’s death on June 23 with another major news event, the collapse of a condominium building near Miami the next day. But the post uses a fabricated image to make that connection.
McAfee, a technology entrepreneur and advocate of cryptocurrency, had a long-running battle with the U.S. government over taxation. In January 2019 he said he had not paid taxes for years and considered himself to be fleeing the IRS.
In a June 2019 tweet, McAfee claimed to have "31+" terabytes of "incriminating data" about government corruption and threatened to release it if he was ever arrested.
He was arrested in Spain in October 2020 at the request of U.S. authorities.
The Instagram post leaves the impression that the data McAfee claimed to have in 2019 may have been destroyed in the Florida building collapse.
It included images of a pair of tweets.
One of them claimed McAfee owned a condo in the building, and cited the second tweet. That tweet, purportedly written June 8 from McAfee’s account, said: "If anything ever happens to me, please know that the 31TB of files I have are located on hard drives in my condo near 88th Street and Collins Avenue just north of Miami Beach."
The intersection named in the image is the same as the site of the building collapse.
But the June 8 tweet appears to be fabricated. There’s no June 8 tweet about those records on the timeline for McAfee’s verified Twitter account, @officialmcafee. And there’s no evidence he owned a condo in the building or had any other connection to it.
McAfee sent out two tweets on June 8, but neither made reference to computer files or a condo, according to an account analysis.
We found no such tweet with a Twitter advanced search or on an AllMyTweets search.
We rate the post False.
In the U.S., the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is at 800-273-8255 and online chat support is also available. Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a crisis counselor from anywhere in the U.S. at any time, about any type of crisis.
Instagram, post, June 25, 2021
PolitiFact, "Rumors surrounding John McAfee’s death linked to QAnon conspiracy," June 25, 2021
PolitiFact, "No cause yet for condo collapse near Miami, no evidence Ivanka Trump targeted," June 25, 2021
Snopes, "Did John McAfee Hide Files at Collapsed Miami Building?", June 25, 2021
AccountAnalysis.app, @officialmcafee analysis, accessed June 28, 2021
AllMyTweets.net, @officialmcafee search, accessed June 28, 2021
Twitter, @officialmcafee, accessed June 25, 2021
Email, Twitter spokesperson Trenton Kennedy, June 28, 2021
Twitter, Twitter advanced search, June 25, 2021
El País, "The founder of McAfee antivirus, John McAfee, commits suicide in a Barcelona prison," June 24, 2021
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