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There is no evidence that numbers and letters on streetlights are connected to messenger RNA, or mRNA, proteins or the COVID-19 vaccine.
Social media users are lit up about videos that suggest there’s a hidden message on your neighborhood streetlight. But there’s no proof to back up the claim.
A May 17 Facebook reel claimed "street lights are connected to mRNA." The video zooms in on a street light to show a series of letters and numbers, "L17-A," which a narrator claims is linked to messenger RNA, or mRNA, proteins.
The post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
The TikTok videos’ captions include hashtags about the COVID-19 vaccine, which was the first widely disseminated vaccine to use mRNA technology.
The videos show someone searching "L17-A" on their phone and pulling up the website UniProt, which is an online database of protein sequences and functions. On the page for the protein "60S ribosomal protein L17-A," the video underlines a section of the page that describes a ribosome’s function.
A ribosome "is responsible for the synthesis of proteins in the cell. The small ribosomal subunit (SSU) binds messenger RNAs (mRNAs)," the underlined section reads.
The scientific name of this protein may contain some of the same numbers and letters as the streetlights in the video, but there is no evidence the two are related to each other, or that these streetlights are connected to the COVID-19 vaccine.
We rate this claim Pants on Fire!
Facebook reel, May 17, 2023
TikTok, Feb. 25, 2023
TikTok, Nov. 12, 2021
UniProt, "60S ribosomal protein L17-A," accessed May 19, 2023
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Overview of COVID-19 Vaccines," Nov. 1, 2022
Biology4Kids.com, "Cell Structure: Ribosomes," accessed May 19, 2023
PolitiFact, "mRNA COVID-19 vaccines were tested in humans, have proven to be safe, effective," June 25, 2021
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