Get PolitiFact in your inbox.
If Your Time is short
The Pentagon was not attacked.
A fake photo was used in a false claim about an explosion.
A Facebook post that misspelled Pentagon, the headquarters of the Defense Department, claimed: "America and Pentahon under attack!!"
The May 23 post included a video in which the narrator exclaimed: "Oh, my God, the Pentagon is under attack, America is under attack."
In the background was the image of a May 22 tweet purporting to show a large cloud of black smoke near an office building. It claimed there were "initial reports of a large explosion" near the Pentagon.
The Facebook 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 Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
No attack occurred.
Eleven minutes after the tweet, the Twitter user tweeted that "there seems to be no evidence" of an attack and that the smoke photo appeared to be fake.
Less than a minute into the video, the narrator said: "OK, I’m not going to screw with you guys anymore." He referred to a May 22 Washington Post news story.
The story said the whole thing was a hoax: A May 22 tweet falsely told of an "initial report" of a "large explosion" near the Pentagon and used the black smoke photo, which it said was created using artificial intelligence. The photo showed a portion of a rectangular building, not the Pentagon. Within 20 minutes, local authorities had debunked the report.
The Pentagon is in Arlington, Virginia, outside of Washington, D.C.
The Arlington County Fire Department tweeted just before 10:30 a.m. EDT on May 22 that it was aware of social media posts about an explosion, and that "there is no explosion or incident taking place at or near the Pentagon."
We rate this claim Pants on Fire!
Washington Post, "A tweet about a Pentagon explosion was fake. It still went viral," May 22, 2023
AFP Fact Check, "Fake Pentagon explosion image spreads online," May 22, 2023
Reuters, "Fact Check-Online posts reporting explosion near Pentagon on May 22, 2023 are false," May 22, 2023
Newsweek, "Fact Check: Was There an Explosion at the Pentagon?", May 22, 2023
Twitter, Arlington County Fire Department tweet, May 22, 2023
The Dispatch, "Fact Check: Image of Explosion Near Pentagon Is Fake," May 24, 2023
Fox Business, "Fake Pentagon explosion image goes viral on Twitter, sparking further AI concerns," May 23, 2023
Read About Our Process
In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.