CLAIM: A compilation of screenshots shows that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has tweeted identical messages after 12 mass shootings in the U.S. from 2012 to 2022.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The image begins with a real message Cruz tweeted following Tuesday’s shooting at an Uvalde, Texas, elementary school, but the following 11 tweets have been fabricated to look like he used the exact same message with a different city name each time. A search of Cruz’s active Twitter accounts, web archives and a database of deleted tweets, shows he did not repeatedly tweet the same message.
THE FACTS: In the days following the mass shooting in Uvalde in which a gunman fatally shot 19 children and two teachers, some social media users are expressing frustration at the frequency of mass shootings in the U.S. and criticizing officials’ responses to them.
One post circulating in the aftermath falsely claimed that Cruz, a Republican senator, had been recycling identical messages of support for victims following other massacres, only swapping in the name of the city where the mass shootings took place each time.
The post features an image showing 12 tweets purportedly from Cruz. The first screenshot reads, “Heidi & I are fervently lifting up in prayer the children and families in the horrific shooting in Uvalde. We are in close contact with local officials, but the precise details are still unfolding. Thank you to heroic law enforcement & first responders for acting so swiftly.”
The rest of the tweets shown use the same text but replace “Uvalde” with different locations. The locations listed are New York, Sacramento, Indianapolis, Rochester, El Paso, Virginia Beach, Pittsburgh, Parkland, Las Vegas, Orlando and Newtown. The timestamp of each tweet also changes.
“These mass shootings happen so much that Ted Cruz really got a template ready to tweet whenever they occur,” one Twitter user stated Thursday, including the photo that purported to show a collection of the nearly-identical posts. The tweet had gained more than 16,000 retweets and 40,000 likes as of Friday morning.
The text in the first tweet, showing Cruz’s response to Uvalde, is real. But the date in the fabricated screenshot is incorrect. Cruz tweeted his message on May 24, not May 25.
The rest of the purported tweets included in the image are not accurate, according to advanced Twitter searches and checks of web archives such as the WayBack Machine, and a ProPublica database that includes Cruz’s deleted tweets since 2013.
While Cruz has used some phrases multiple times in tweets about mass shootings — for example “lifting up in prayer,” and addressing the “community” and “first responders” — he has not used an identical template.
And Cruz did not tweet at all from either his personal Twitter account nor his senator account in response to the mass shootings that happened in Sacramento, Indianapolis, Rochester, Virginia Beach and Parkland.
The dates listed in the fabricated screenshot falsely claiming to show Cruz’s responses to shootings in Buffalo and Rochester are also incorrect. The date given for the Buffalo shooting is listed as April 2022, when the shooting happened the next month, in May. And the Rochester shooting is listed as September 2021, but that shooting happened the year prior, in 2020.
A spokesman for Cruz did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.