Our favorites that popped up in your newsfeed in 2014
Feeling outraged by your political opposite? Frustrated by a particular government program? Maybe just aggrieved in general?
Boy, does social media have a meme for you.
And several of the more viral images and claims found their way to PolitiFact Georgia, where we looked at how well the claims popping up on your newsfeed captured accuracy as well as the moment.
We welcome your sentiments on these rulings, and your suggestions of other fact checks, on Facebook (www.facebook.com/politifact.georgia) and Twitter, (http://twitter.com/politifactga), or @PolitiFactGA.
Social media posts making the rounds on Nov. 10: Congress has 11 percent approval ratings, yet 96.4 percent of incumbent lawmakers were re-elected in 2014.
A majority of voters in the 2014 midterm elections told pollsters they weren’t happy with the Republican leadership in Congress, yet handed control of the U.S. Senate to the party.
A photo of the House chamber had a pithy summary of that dichotomy: "11% approval ratings. 96.4% re-elected."
In fact, it was more than concise. It was pretty much on target.
PolitiFact looked at five separate polls taken a month before the election and found an average of 14 percent of respondents approve of Congress (meaning both the U.S. House and Senate).
Counting a late Democratic Senate loss in Alaska and eventual GOP runoff win in Louisiana, the combined House-Senate incumbent winning percentage was about 95 percent.
So the numbers are slightly off, but the point is solid: Voters hold Congress in low regard, yet they re-elect almost everyone.
We rated the claim True.
A social media meme from Aug. 7: In 1978, a student who worked a minimum-wage summer job could afford to pay a year's full tuition at the four-year public university of their choice.
Were the Good Old Days really so much better that a $2.65 minimum wage was enough for a summer job to cover a year of college in 1978?
That was the claim from OurTime.org, an advocacy group for young Americans in a meme that made the rounds this summer.
In that year’s dollars, a 13-week, full-time gig would have paid $1,378 by summer’s end. In-state tuition and fees at a four-year university were $688, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
So the claim is correct – with some caveats. The meme mentions a college "of their choice," but out-of-state rates may well have kicked up the tuition total beyond a summer’s minimum-wage haul.
On balance, we rated the claim Mostly True.
Congressional candidate Jody Hice in a January post on Facebook: Thomas Jefferson said, "That government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves."
GOP congressional candidate Jody Hice rolled to an easy victory to represent Georgia’s 10th Congressional District in the northeast corner the state.
That gave him plenty of time to showcase what he calls his constitutional conservatism via quotes from political idol Thomas Jefferson on his Facebook and Twitter pages.
Most followed the tone of a January post, with the image of a waving American flag and an attribution to Jefferson, ""That government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves."
The problem: The quote is not from the Founding Father.
In fact, it’s one of the most common quotes incorrectly attributed to Jefferson, first appearing in 1853.
Historians long attributed the quote to Henry David Thoreau, who used a variation of it in his 1849 essay "Civil Disobedience" to argue that individuals should not let governments make them agents of injustice.
New research indicates, though, that Thoreau himself was likely quoting the magazine The United States Magazine and Democratic Review, where the sentiment first appeared in 1837.
Either way, it wasn’t Jefferson. We rated Hice’s claim False.
Facebook posts on Jan. 29: The cost of the food stamp program is at an all-time high.
The farm bill that Congress passed in early 2014 contained cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as food stamps.
The Facebook pages of some conservative critics rejoiced, saying that the cost of the food stamp is at an all-time high.
One person had a chart showing the annual totals. The highest number was for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, at nearly $80 billion.
We wondered whether this chart is correct and about the claim that spending for the program is at an all-time high.
Data from the U.S. Agricultural Department show that spending on SNAP has risen in recent years like fly balls used to do on summer nights in the old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.
In fiscal 2008, SNAP spending totaled about $53.6 billion. Five years later, it was $79.64 billion -- the highest total since the program started in 1969. Adjusted for inflation, the 2013 total is higher than any other fiscal year.
The department's chart shows spending per recipient was at its highest in fiscal 2011, at $133.85. The fiscal 2013 total was $133.07.
We rated the claim Mostly True.