Snopes is still fighting an “infodemic” of rumors and misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, and you can help. Find out what we’ve learned and how to inoculate yourself against COVID-19 misinformation. Read the latest fact checks about the vaccines. Submit any questionable rumors and “advice” you encounter. Become a Founding Member to help us hire more fact-checkers. And, please, follow the CDC or WHO for guidance on protecting your community from the disease.
In April 2020, the retail store Costco announced that it would be requiring customers to wear masks in its stores in an effort to help slow the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus disease. As some shoppers viewed this new policy as a sort of violation of their rights, they took to social media to vent their frustrations.
One Facebook user named “Sharon” reportedly posted a message to Costco’s official Facebook page, reading: “I will not shop at Costco until you remove your mandatory mask rule!” This message wasn’t out of the ordinary. Costco’s alleged response, however, was not something that you typically see from an established brand:
Costco reportedly replied: “Thank you for taking such a brave stand, Sharon. We look forward to the documentary they will make about you some day.” When another social media user jumped in to defend “Sharon,” Costco allegedly replied with another curt response, writing: “We’ve chosen not to refund you.”
This exchange, however, did not originate with the official Costco Wholesale page. This exchange actually comes from comedian Ben Palmer, who has a penchant for imitating brands online.
In 2018, for instance, Palmer created a fake Facebook page for the City of Atlanta and facetiously announced that the city was going to destroy a Confederate monument on Stone Mountain. Palmer’s website has several additional examples showing the comedian impersonating official entities ranging from Home Depot to pastor Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church.
The fake Costco exchange was originally posted to Palmer’s fake customer service Facebook page “Hope This Helps.” Palmer also posted a video of himself reading Costco’s alleged responses to his Facebook page: