Over the last week, social media users have been pushing claims that President Joe Biden had lowered the age of sexual consent to 8 years.
The claims were pushed by right-leaning users on Facebook and Twitter in more than one form. One was a screenshot of an NBC headline, which comprised of a photo of Biden and the text "BREAKING - President Biden has officially lowered the age of consent to 8."
The second was a screenshot of a CNN article with the headline "Biden Administration Lowers Age of Consent to 8," complete with text as well as a Biden quote:
"President Joe Biden's administration confirmed that the legal age of consent will be lowered to 8 starting February 16th," read an excerpt from the article in the screenshot. "During a speech Tuesday afternoon, Biden stated 'We have to do it... The age, the kids, they should be about this old.' Biden then held up a gesture suggesting the historic decrease. This change is a huge win for progressives everywhere seeking to increase freedom for children."
It was even accompanied with a Google search thumbnail that was also widely circulated on social media:
As pointed out by fact-checking website Snopes, the articles were obviously nothing more than "egregious and distasteful nonsense." The NBC and CNN articles were both fake and doctored. Biden made no such statements as cited in the CNN story, and the screenshot seems to have lifted the article's byline (which includes the updated time and date of the piece) from an actual CNN story published on Jan. 27:
Moreover, neither Biden nor any official in his administration announced the plans to change the age of sexual consent. The legal competence to consent to sexual acts is governed by criminal statutes that vary from one state to another and is not under the control of the federal government.
The claims appeared to be part of the widespread but baseless far-right QAnon conspiracy theory that claims an elite group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles, which includes Biden, the Clintons and others, are running the world and are involved in a global child sex-trafficking ring.
During the 2020 presidential election, former president Donald Trump amplified such baseless conspiracy theories by promoting tweets that described Biden as a pedophile.