Fact Check

Did John McAfee Hide Files at Collapsed Miami Building?

Some social media users attempted to use McAfee's death to turn the tragic collapse of a Florida building into a conspiracy theory.

Published June 25, 2021

Image courtesy of Wikipedia
John McAfee tweeted that he hid 31TB of files at the building near Miami, Florida, that collapsed in June 2021.

On June 23, 2021, software pioneer John McAfee was found dead in his prison cell, hours after a Spanish court approved his extradition to the United States to face various charges of tax evasion. After news broke, a number of conspiracy theories started to circulate online. Some claimed, for instance, that McAfee's "$WHACKD" tattoo indicated that the software pioneer did not take his own life. (You can read more about the tattoo here.) Some social media users also attempted to use McAfee's death to turn a tragic incident — the collapse of a condo near Miami Beach, Florida, that has left at least four people dead and more than a hundred more missing — into a conspiracy theory.

On Twitter, an image supposedly showing a message McAfee posted on June 8, 2021, was circulated with claims that Champlain Towers had been intentionally demolished to destroy files McAfee had hidden there. This claim was also attached to another message that claimed McAfee's alleged son, Pat McAfee, had an office at this building.

There is no evidence to support these claims.

The above-displayed tweet does not appear on McAfee's timeline and appears to have been doctored. And while McAfee previously claimed that he had fathered 47 children, there are very few details to back up this assertion. Regardless, there doesn't appear to be any record of John McAfee having a son named "Pat McAfee." The person of this name who may be most familiar to American audiences, sports analyst Pat McAfee, is not McAfee's son and has already confirmed on Twitter that he does not have a condo in Florida.

We were unable to find any record of the above-displayed alleged tweet, which reads "If anything ever happens to me, please know that 31TB of files I have are located on hard drives in my condo near 88th Street and Collins Avenue Just north of Miami Beach," on McAfee's Twitter timeline. We were also unable to find any retweets or quote tweets of this message directing back to a deleted link.

It's also highly unlikely that this message was posted and subsequently deleted from McAfee's account. Not only is there no trace of the original URL, but after McAfee's death, social media users archived hundreds of tweets that had been posted by McAfee, presumably because they thought the account could be deleted. We looked over those tweets on Archive.is and found no record of a message from McAfee saying that he hid files in the building that collapsed in Florida.

It should also be noted that there's no reason at present to suggest that the building in Surfside, Florida was intentionally "demolished." While an exact cause has not yet been determined, officials noted that there was no evidence of foul play.

The Miami Herald reported on one possible cause for the building's collapse:

Greg Batista, a professional engineer from Davie who specializes in concrete repair projects, said that after watching the Surfside condo tower collapsing to rubble in online videos, one potential structural flaw jumped out at him.

“Concrete spalling.” Here’s what it means.

Batista said that when salt water seeps into porous concrete, it causes the reinforced steel rods known as rebar in the support beams to rust and expand. In turn, the expansion breaks up the concrete and that weakens the beams.

As of this writing, the only connection between McAfee's death and the building collapse in Florida is that they both took place in June 2021. McAfee did not tweet that he was storing files in the building, and the claim that his alleged son "Pat McAffee" owned a condo in the building appears to have been conjured out of thin air.

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.