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Viral list of banned books in Florida isn’t real

A viral image supposedly showing a list of banned books in Florida — including “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “A Wrinkle in Time” and “Of Mice and Men” — circulated widely online. But this list isn’t genuine. Let’s look at the facts.

An image of a tweet from actor Mark Hamill reads, “This also works nicely as a Recommended Reading List.” The tweet features a picture of a “Banned Book List” that includes titles such as “A Wrinkle in Time,” “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” and “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.” The alleged banned books meme includes the paragraph “Florida’s Anti-Woke banned book list. A couple of them make sense considering republicans should be terrified their constituents might read ‘1984.’” The News Literacy Project has added a label that says, “FAKE.”
This image does not show an authentic list of books that have been banned in Florida schools.
This list is a fabrication.
The state of Florida does not have an “Anti-Woke banned book list.”
As Reuters Fact Check reported, some of the titles on this list — including “1984,” “Of Mice and Men” and “Lord of the Flies” — are included in Florida’s state standards for English Language Arts.

NewsLit takeaway

Misinformation often grows from a kernel of truth.

In the months leading up to this viral meme’s circulation in August 2022, several book bans were enacted at libraries and schools across the United States on titles that primarily dealt with racism and LGBTQ issues. In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a law that revised selection requirements for school reading materials, spurring parents in the state to mount various challenges against some of the required reading. A few of the books on this list were temporarily removed by a handful of Florida school districts. Controversial and polarizing political debates often provide fertile ground for false rumors to take root, typically by eliciting strong emotions like outrage that cause people to accept things at face value that seem true to them.

This list, however, is fake.

While the state does offer some guidance on reading material, it is generally up to local school districts to enforce these recommendations.

The American Libraries Association (ALA) told Reuters that “while there have been attempts – some successful – to ban the titles listed in the viral post, it is not a list of books banned by the state of Florida or by any state agency in Florida.” One spokesperson for DeSantis told The Associated Press that the list was fake.

Remember: Be mindful of emotionally powerful content that circulates in the form of a screenshot or without links and citations. This list was not accompanied by any news stories or links to government documents about a supposed banned book list. If you’re unsure of something you see online — particularly if it fits these patterns — it’s best to pause, reflect and do a quick search for additional information.

NLP’s viral rumor rundown is a regular feature in The Sift, its weekly email newsletter for educators, and in Get Smart About News, its weekly email newsletter for the general public. You can subscribe to these newsletters here. Send suggestions, questions or feedback on this rumor or on the viral rumor rundown blog to thesift@newslit.org.