Allegation: John McAfee owned a unit in a partially collapsed apartment building in Florida
Conspiracy theorists are trying to link the death of antivirus software pioneer John McAfee to the Florida high-rise that partially collapsed on June 24.
McAfee was found dead on June 23 in a Spanish prison, where he was awaiting extradition to the United States for criminal tax evasion. He was 75 years old.
The next day, an apartment complex in Surfside, Florida collapsed, leaving at least four dead and more than 150 missing.
The two events are unrelated, but some social media users say there was an outrageous connection.
“John McAfee owned a unit in the building that collapsed. The address of the building was 8777 Collins Avenue South,” said a text posted on June 25 to Instagram.
Below the text is a screenshot of an alleged June 8 tweet from McAfee that reads: “If anything happens to me, please know that 31 TB (terabytes) of my files are on the hard drives of my condo near 88th Street and Collins Street North Miami Beach”.
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Similar versions of the claim were widely shared on Instagram, TwitterAnd Reddit and blogging.
But there is no evidence to support these claims. Fabricated McAfee tweet. While the exact reason for The collapse of the building remains unknown, and officials say no wrongdoing is suspected.
USA TODAY reached out to the Instagram user who shared the post for comment.
Fabricated McAfee tweet
The screenshot of the tweet matches the details of McAfee’s official Twitter profile, but there is no trace of the post on his page.
that advanced search From McAfee’s profile shows that he never posted the tweet.
On June 8, he said Spread two Tweets, one of which has the same timestamp as the purported screenshot, indicating that it may be a sample digitally fabricated tweet. Neither mentioned hard drives stored in an apartment near Miami Beach.
McAfee’s only tweet about 31TB of files is from June 9, 2019, in which he claimed to have incriminating statements “on corruption in governments”. But he never said where the files were.
John Silva, Senior Director of Education and Training for the nonprofit News Literacy Project, pointed On Twitter, the allegations are part of broader conspiracy theories about McAfee’s death, including the baseless claim – pushed by QAnon supporters – that the “Deep State” killed him.
QAnon conspiracy theorists unfoundedly claim the existence of a diabolical gang of child-abusing cannibal political elites, business leaders and Hollywood celebrities actively working against former President Donald Trump.
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Phishing tweets are a common tactic among those who spread misinformation. USA TODAY exposed the fake tweets from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. All three are frequent targets of conspiracy theories.
USA TODAY has contacted McAfee’s attorneys for additional comment.
The cause of the collapse is still unknown
An Associated Press review of property records in the Champlain Towers South Condo building found that neither McAfee nor his wife Janice McAfee were listed as owners of any units.
Investigators are still looking into the cause of the collapse. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniela Levine Cava told ABC News that while malicious play has not been ruled out, “at this point, (there is) no indication.”
Experts say there were many different factors that could have contributed to the building’s collapse, including rising sea levels, unstable ground under the building and lax oversight over its construction.
Our rating: Wrong
The claim that McAfee owned a unit in a partially collapsed apartment building in Florida is false, based on our research. Records show that McAfee did not own property in the Champlain Towers South Condo. McAfee did not publish the tweet mentioned in the Instagram post. Authorities did not specify the cause of the collapse, but said there was no evidence of tampering.
Our sources for fact-checking:
- John McAfee, accessed 25 June, Twitter
- John McAfee, June 8 tweet
- John McAfee, June 8 tweet
- John McAfee, 9 Jun 2019, Available here. tweet
- John Silva, June 25 tweet
- USA TODAY, July 22, 2020, Donald Trump declines to condemn Qanoun: Here’s what you need to know about the far-right conspiracy theory
- USA TODAY May 30 Fact Check: Fake Tweet Allegations Posted by Hillary Clinton about Vaccines and Jeffrey Epstein
- USA TODAY, APRIL 14, NEWS VERIFICATION: Satire page shares fake Twitter thread between Bill Gates and Jeffrey Epstein
- Associated Press, June 25 John McAfee didn’t own an apartment in a collapsed Florida building
- ABC News, June 25 Surfside building collapse: 159 still missing as death toll rises
- USA TODAY June 26 Building collapse in Miami: Experts say there could have been multiple factors
- Posted on Instagram, June 25
- USA TODAY June 26 Battle of Crews Time to search for 159 missing: What we know about a building collapse in Florida
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