The Origins of the Myth that President Obama Had an Illegitimate Child

Former President Obama Speaks At The Gates Foundation Inaugural Goalkeepers Event
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As posted on Facebook, Sept. 14, 2012:

Obama's Son
Netlore Archive: Facebook posting links to a 'news story' claiming President Obama has a heretofore unknown 19-year-old son who appeared on stage with his father at the 2012 Democratic National Convention..

News circulated briefly in 2012 via social media and email about a previously unknown 19-year-old son of then U.S. President Barack Obama. People passed along the information to others, and some readers believed the story to be true. What really happened?

The Article About Obama's Son

One version of the viral news story, as reported on Facebook on Sept. 14, 2012, read as follows:​

CHARLOTTE, NC—The first family has turned more than a few heads at this week’s Democratic National Convention, where the president, as he greets delegates and waves to crowds of supporters, is often accompanied not only by his wife and two daughters, but also his rarely seen 19-year-old son, Luther.

The shy, slightly overweight teenager, who has lived his entire life with his mother in central Illinois, seldom appears in public with the president, with whom he has reportedly shared a somewhat distant and occasionally strained relationship.

-Full Article-

Analysis of the Claim About Obama's Son

In reality, Barack Obama has two daughters and no sons. The text and photo here originated in an article published in the satirical (fictitious) newspaper The Onion on Sept. 6, 2012.

Responses to Facebook postings of this article indicated that people were unaware that publishes satirical content: The Onion's news stories are not meant to be taken seriously. (The Onion also, however, has a widely read section that provides reviews and articles on cultural events.)

But think about it: if a heretofore unknown illegitimate son of the president of the United States had appeared before the Democratic National Convention, not to mention the national media, The Onion wouldn't have been the article's source. In an age of viral information sharing, always check the legitimacy of sources before believing what they say.