Trump Administration Member Rick Perry Just Fell For One Of The Oldest Social Media Hoaxes

Rick Perry and Donald Trump at a White House event.
Alex Wong / Getty Images

The man in charge of America’s nuclear weapon arsenal just fell for one of the oldest hoaxes on social media.

This week, Trump administration member Rick Perry took to Instagram to share the social media site’s version of an old chain mail, Buzzfeed News reported. Perry posted a screenshot of a message that falsely claimed Instagram was changing its privacy policy and that users needed to post a message saying the site was not allowed to use their photos. Perry posted the screenshot to his personal account and also shared it on Twitter, the report noted, apparently not realizing this is a hoax that has circulated for years as well as debunked over and over.

“With this statement, I give notice to Instagram it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, or take any other action against me based on this profile and/or its contents,” Perry’s message read. “Instagram DOES NOT HAVE MY PERMISSION TO SHARE PHOTOS OR MESSAGES.”

The report noted that this hoax dates back to at least 2012 when a version of it circulated on Facebook and garnered thousands of shares. Though there are many different variations, the theme is that the social media site is planning a big change to its privacy policy and that users must post the message or else lose ownership of their private photos and messages forever. Buzzfeed News noted that many other celebrities have fallen for this hoax over the years, including Julia Roberts, Debra Messing, and Julianne Moore.

Yet, the report took particular aim at the 69-year-old head of the U.S. Department of Energy, the man in charge of America’s nuclear arsenal, not being able to see a hoax when he sees one.

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The point of the hoax was not entirely clear. In the past, fake news stories about celebrity deaths have spread across social media, often attempting to trick people into clicking on a link that could give away their personal information or install malware on computers. Other fake stories have been used to spread falsehoods about political figures or sway voters. There did not appear to be any clear ulterior motive to the recent Instagram hoax, however.

As Fortune noted, a spokesperson for Instagram issued a statement confirming that the viral post is a hoax and that people are not at risk of losing ownership of their photos. However, the site did not comment on what could be done to stop the spread of these viral hoaxes. Rick Perry later deleted his Instagram post sharing the hoax.