A screenshot of a doctored CNN headline about Elon Musk, free speech and Twitter that went viral has been widely mistaken as authentic. The manipulated image was originally published by a satire website. Let’s take a look at the facts.
Digital images are easy to manipulate and even easier to copy and repost out of context. In this case, a satirical website used a doctored video still from a Jan. 28, 2020, broadcast featuring CNN anchor Don Lemon with a parody article about Musk joining Twitter’s board of directors. However, it’s clear from responses to this rumor (see here, here and here) that many people believed it was authentic. Stealing images, other graphics and headlines from satirical articles is a common tactic used to spark outrage or partisan disdain. But such pieces can spread confusion and misperceptions about organizations and institutions and important issues like content moderation. This example includes several noticeable red flags for readers who pause long enough to notice them: The name of the publication (Genesius Times) and the questionable byline (Exavier Saskagoochie) both suggest this isn’t a legitimate story, as does the clumsily doctored text at the bottom of the image.
Related: “Fact Check-Screenshot purporting to show CNN tweet claiming that child soldiers are fighting in eastern Ukraine is digitally altered” (Reuters Fact Check).
- “Fact Check-Article about Elon Musk and free speech originated as satire” (Reuters Fact Check).
- “Image of CNN report about Elon Musk came from parody site” (Sophia Tulp, The Associated Press).
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