A viral image supposedly shows a message posted by former President Donald Trump claiming he was knighted in private by Queen Elizabeth II. But he never published such a post. Let’s look at the facts.
Be skeptical of alleged social media messages that only circulate in image form as screenshots. A plethora of online tools make fabricating images of social media messages rather easy. While these doctored pieces of impostor content can appear convincing, one big red flag gives these messages away as fakes: They do not have URLs connected to the social media profile of the subject (in this case, Trump). This means that there are no retweets (or “retruths”) of the original message, and there are no links back to a piece of deleted content. Another giveaway? Many of these alleged posts will have the same number of likes and shares, as well as the same time stamp.
We’ve covered similar pieces of impostor content and you can get a rundown on how to investigate this type of rumor here. In this case, the Associated Press searched Trump’s Truth Social account, checked archived pages of that account and spoke to a Trump spokesperson to determine that this rumor was false.
While this message was inauthentic, that didn’t stop it from going viral. “Sir Donald” trended on social media as people poked fun at the former president over something he never said. Often, these types of examples are created as jokes, but wind up creating confusion as they spread. Many people defend these jokes by arguing they “might as well be true” because it’s plausible the person in question would post something similar. But these kinds of rationalizations fail to account for the distortive impact such rumors can have on the national conversation. If we catch ourselves expressing a similar opinion – “It might as well be true” – it may be a good moment to reflect on whether we’re forming opinions based on facts or we’re in search of “facts” to support opinions.
“Trump did not claim that Queen Elizabeth II knighted him” (Josh Kelety, The Associated Press).
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