An image containing a fabricated quote attributed to actor and comedian Betty White went viral hours after her death on Dec. 31, 2021. The quote falsely states that White just had gotten a COVID-19 vaccine booster and baselessly implied that it was a factor in her death. Let’s take a look at the facts.
Propagators of anti-vaccine disinformation previously have seized on celebrity deaths — including baseball great Hank Aaron; boxer Marvin Hagler; Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh; and rapper DMX — to falsely impugn the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. Remember: Vaccinated people also die of other causes and a significant portion of the population, including celebrities, are vaccinated. Posts that falsely connect high-profile deaths to vaccines are often attempting to exploit the public’s emotions to generate fear and distrust. This particular rumor has another red flag: The fake quote has been added to a screenshot of a social media preview for an actual article in which the quote never appeared. This lends the fabricated quote an air of authenticity without providing a clickable link, making it less likely that people will check the alleged source to confirm that the quote is authentic.
Related: “‘Vaccine’ Is Merriam-Webster’s Word Of The Year 2021, Here’s How They Updated Their Definition” (Bruce Y. Lee, Forbes).
- “Did Betty White Say She Got COVID Booster 3 Days Before She Died?” (David Emery, Snopes).
- “Fact check: No, Betty White did not receive a COVID-19 booster days before her death” (McKenzie Sadeghi, USA Today).
- “EDITORIAL: A Betty White lie teaches a valuable social media lesson” (Brent Schacherer and Stephen Wiblemo, Hutchinson Leader).
- “Fake vaccine quote circulates after Betty White’s death” (Karena Phan, The Associated Press).
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