On Aug. 6, 2023, Facebook users began to share posts that linked to an online article that claimed, "U.S. Olympic Team Releases Megan Rapinoe After World Cup Blunder."
According to the story, U.S. women's national team soccer player Megan Rapinoe was asked by the U.S. Olympic Team to "step aside." This directive purportedly came after she and other players on the team missed penalty kicks in their loss against Sweden on Aug. 6.
Facebook users who either shared the story or saw a post about it made various negative remarks about Rapinoe herself. Examples of some of these comments included "justice served," "she is a cancer," "the devil gets its due," and "about time."
The beginning of the article read as follows:
Megan Rapinoe announced her retirement from professional soccer earlier this year. That means no more World Cups or league play after 2023.
Still, all athletes are eligible to try out for the US Olympic Team, of which Rapinoe has been a member for 17 years. This year, however, the team has asked that she step aside.
"In light of the World Cup blunder and the negative attention for kneeling during the National Anthem, the US Olympic Women's Soccer team has released Megan Rapinoe," said Olympic Committee Chairman Joe Barron, "Ms. Rapinoe has our deepest respect."
However, despite the article and the users' comments, this was not a genuine news story.
The rumor about Rapinoe originated from an article published by the Dunning-Kruger Times. The website is part of the America's Last Line of Defense network of satirical content.
The Dunning-Kruger Times' "About Us" page describes the website as publishing content that includes "parody, satire, and tomfoolery." The page also makes a reference to Snopes, since we often report on the website's stories after being asked about their authenticity by readers.
The article's mention of a person named "Joe Barron" was a reiteration of a fake name that's been used many times in past articles published by the Dunning-Kruger Times.
Other satirical stories also published by the Dunning-Kruger Times following the Women's World Cup soccer loss included, "Megan Rapinoe Loses $25M Broadcasting Deal After Embarrassing World Cup Loss," "Megan Rapinoe Released From Pro Soccer Team OL Reign: 'It's Time She Moves On,'" and "Nike Ends Partnership With Megan Rapinoe: 'We Paid For a Champion.'"
For background, here is why we sometimes write about satire/humor.