Bogus Claim Swirls Ahead of Biden Inauguration

Quick Take

A bogus headline on social media claims that President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration has been cancelled and that major TV networks are set to “lose” their “licenses.” The falsehood relies on a debunked post wrongly claiming that President Donald Trump has “invoked” the Insurrection Act and will remain in power.

Full Story

Days before President-elect Joe Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration, social media users are being served a fabricated tale claiming the event has been “cancelled” — and wrongly claiming that major news networks are set to “lose” their licenses.

A Jan. 15 story on a website called “Before It’s News” was headlined: “ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CNN, MSNBC to Lose Licenses, Trump Remains in Office, Inauguration Cancelled.”

The website has shared misinformation in the past. It also ran the same story under a similar headline a day earlier, which was spread on Facebook and also republished by other dubious websites.

First of all, we should note that the 20th Amendment to the Constitution makes clear a president and vice president begin their terms on Jan. 20. And the Electoral College results have been verified and accepted by Congress, affirming that Biden will become the next president.

Instead, the bogus report on Before It’s News cites as its source a message purporting to be from President Donald Trump, saying that he has “invoked the Insurrection Act of 1807” and will “remain president indefinitely until all domestic enemies are arrested.”

But that’s a claim we’ve already debunked: The message is the same one that appeared recently on Parler, from an account made to look like a Trump account.

As we’ve explained, there’s no evidence that “@TeamTrumpNews” is an official account, and it’s not true that Trump has “invoked” the Insurrection Act — which permits the president, in certain cases, to deploy the military to quell civil unrest.

So, no, Biden’s inauguration has not been cancelled; organizers are pairing traditional elements of the ceremony with virtual components in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and security has been heightened in Washington, D.C. following the Capitol riot. And there is no evidence that major television networks are set to lose their licenses, either.

Contrary to the bogus report, the transfer of power and planning for the inauguration continue. On Jan. 15, the Presidential Inaugural Committee for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris released a schedule of inauguration events; the Associated Press reported that Vice President Mike Pence had called to congratulate Harris, as well as offer assistance ahead of the inauguration; and Republican Sen. John Cornyn confirmed he will attend the inauguration.

Editor’s note: is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.

This fact check is available at IFCN’s 2020 US Elections FactChat #Chatbot on WhatsApp. Click here for more.


20th Amendment.” National Constitution Center. Accessed 15 Jan 2021.” NewsGuard. 2020.

Colvin, Jill and Alexandra Jaffe. “Mike Pence calls Kamala Harris to offer congratulations.” Associated Press. 15 Jan 2021.

Cornyn, John (@JohnCornyn). “See you there.” Twitter. 15 Jan 2021.

Engel, John. “Sens. Ted Cruz, John Cornyn will attend President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.” KXAN. 15 Jan 2021.

Fichera, Angelo. “False Claim of Trump Invoking Insurrection Act.” 14 Jan 2020.

Kavi, Aishvarya. “Biden’s Inauguration: What You Need to Know.” New York Times. 15 Jan 2021.

Ryan, Missy, et. al. “Security footprint grows in nation’s capital ahead of inauguration.” Washington Post. 13 Jan 2021.

Schedule for the 59th Presidential Inauguration.” Presidential Inaugural Committee for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Accessed 15 Jan 2021.

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