The following is a roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. None of these are legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked them out. Here are the facts:
CLAIM: Video shows that Nashville explosion was caused by a missile or some kind of directed energy weapon.
THE FACTS: The explosion was caused by a bomb inside a parked recreational vehicle in downtown Nashville.
Social media users shared grainy surveillance video from the Dec. 25 explosion, and pointed to a streak of smoke to falsely claim that the blast was caused by a bomb or a directed energy weapon. “Looking like a missile strike now. Video proof. Explains why the airspace was locked down,” wrote one Twitter user on Dec. 26. Similar false claims circulated widely on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and Parler.
Police were responding to a report of shots fired when they encountered the RV blaring a recorded warning that a bomb would detonate in 15 minutes. Police have identified Anthony Quinn Warner, 63, who was killed in the explosion, as the person responsible for the blast. A motive has not been determined.
This is video of Friday morning's explosion recorded by an MNPD camera at 2nd Ave N & Commerce St. pic.twitter.com/3vaXhoUOAR— Metro Nashville PD (@MNPDNashville) December 28, 2020
Surveillance video from a Metro Nashville Police Department camera at the intersection of 2nd Avenue North and Commerce Street captured the explosion and offers proof that the blast came from the parked recreational vehicle. Social media users were sharing a different grainy, black-and-white surveillance video from a local business that showed the explosion from a distance. WKRN-TV, a Nashville television station, aired the footage.
Posts pointed to what appears to be a streak of smoke captured in the video, falsely asserting it was a “missile trail” from a strike in the area. Other posts said a directed energy weapon caused the damage. A frame-by-frame review of the video revealed the smoke was ascending from the source of the blast.
“That is not a missile strike. Missiles don’t leave smoke trails as they come back down,” Jeffrey Lewis, an expert at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies told The Associated Press in an email. The explosion outside an AT&T building in downtown Nashville, interfered with communications in several Southern states, damaged dozens of buildings and injured three people, the AP reported. Some posts falsely alleged a missile targeted AT&T because the company got a contract to do a forensic audit of Dominion Voting Systems machines and those machines were recently moved to the AT&T building in Nashville that was damaged in the explosion.