How One Fake News Story About the President’s Daughter Created Commotion on Social Media

Mother with baby at home
A fake news story about First Daughter Malia Obama spread over the internet this past week and caused quite a stir on social media.

Empirenews.net posted a “satire” piece on Nov. 28 about the 16-year-old, with fake quotes from President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama on their daughter’s “announcement.”

The article, entitled, “President Obama’s 16-Year-Old Daughter Malia Confirmed Pregnant,” contained plenty of bogus statements from “Malia,” such as, “MTV already offered to give me my own show, White House Baby-Momma-Drama or something stupidly titled like that.”

Unfortunately, the piece then got picked up by a Facebook account called “Fox News Channel,” which, despite the name, is not an official Fox News social media account. But many of those who saw it didn’t question the source and believed the story to be true.

In all, the story got shared on Facebook over 120,000 that week, and the widget on the faux news site displays a total count of 433,000 Facebook shares and 497 comments.

The top comments, at least, are from people who weren’t buying the story. Some called it “ridiculous” while others pointed out “satire is supposed to be funny” and “[Malia]’s a kid for crying out loud.”

Perhaps it’s understandable why a story about a famous pregnant teen got so much attention.

Despite declining figures, teen pregnancy is still an issue in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 2012 was a record low for births in the 15-19 age group and a 6% decrease from the previous, with a total of 305,388 babies born to mothers that age or a live birth rate of 29.4 per 1,000 women in that age group.

And shows like MTV’s Teen Mom are still a large part of the public’s consciousness, hence the claim of Malia getting a reality show of her own.

“Unfortunately, what’s touted as funny to some can be a very real crisis to those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. Teen pregnancy has become a political chess piece, and famous pregnant teens are lightning rods for publicity. Thankfully, there are many pregnancy resource centers available to meet women in such a situation, when one actually occurs,” says Andrea Nelson, Program Director at CareNet Pregnancy Services of DuPage.

The pregnancy rumor showed up right after Malia and her 13-year-old sister Sasha were criticized by Elizabeth Lauten, a now-former communications director for U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher. However, Lauten later apologized for her “classless” comment and then resigned from her position.

Former First Daughter Jenna Bush Hager spoke out in support of President Obama’s daughters on “Watch What Happens Live” on Dec. 4, saying that she feels “fiercely protective” of Malia and Sasha.

“I don’t think that it’s easy,” Bush Hager said of being a President’s daughter. “It’s not a job that they wanted.”

Bush Hager also admitted that she had difficulties growing up in the White House, too, but also recognized that it was a privileged position to be in.

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