A viral photo collage that includes a 2007 photo of a child in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe is being used as “evidence” that Kyle Rittenhouse — who shot three people, killing two of them, during protests and riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August 2020 — was raised as a white supremacist. But the child in the photo is not Rittenhouse. The photo and similar images taken the same day have gone viral out of context before. Let’s take a look at the facts.
Photos that are more tightly focused on photo subjects are easier to take out of context than wider shots. This is one reason why close-up photos of flooding, groups of protesters, gas station signs and empty store shelves often go viral in false contexts. (Another reason is that they can provoke quick, strong emotional responses that ignite existing beliefs.) This close-up photo of a child wearing KKK garb is an example — and could have been taken almost anytime in the last 50 years. It also could easily be falsely identified as anyone who looks even remotely similar as an adult — a particularly potent tactic when the person involved is already polarizing.
- “No, This Is Not Kyle Rittenhouse Wearing KKK Garb as a Child” (Dan Evon, Snopes).
- “Did Sarah Huckabee Sanders Wear a KKK Halloween Costume in 1993?” (Dan Evon, Snopes).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.