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Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher May 25, 2023

Fake photo used in claim that the Pentagon was attacked. Pants on Fire!

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.

Other news organizations, including Fox Business, Reuters and NPR, also reported that the image of an explosion was fake.

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!

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Fake photo used in claim that the Pentagon was attacked. Pants on Fire!

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