GSAN: LeBron’s words twisted | Fake Saturn photo | News on TikTok

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LeBron's words twisted | Fake Saturn photo | News on TikTok

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Viral rumor rundown

NO: LeBron James did not say he didn't want anything to do with white people. YES: In the first episode of the HBO show The Shop in 2018, James shared that he was initially wary of white people at his predominantly white Catholic high school in Akron, Ohio. YES: In telling this story on The Shop, James said [link warning: profanity], “when I first went to the ninth grade … I was so institutionalized, growing up in the hood, it’s like … they don’t want us to succeed … so I’m like, I’m going to this school to play ball, and that’s it. I don’t want nothing to do with white people. I don’t believe that they want anything to do with me.” YES: The conversation went on to clarify that these initial feelings soon changed as sports and basketball created friendships.

Note: This misleading quote has gone viral several times before. It recently recirculated after James tweeted a photo of a police officer who was identified as firing the shots that killed Ma'Khia Bryant in Columbus, Ohio, on April 20, along with the message “YOU’RE NEXT #ACCOUNTABILITY.” James later deleted the tweet.



NO: This is not a photo of Saturn. YES: It’s an artistic rendering of the imagined view from the Cassini spacecraft during one of its final, close passes over Saturn in 2017.

Tip: Fake or doctored photos supposedly from space are a common type of “engagement bait” online.

Resource: Reverse image search tutorial (NLP’s Checkology® virtual classroom).


NO: COVID-19 is not automatically declared the cause of death for anyone who dies within 20 days of testing positive for the virus. YES: The cause of death in the United States is determined by local coroners, medical examiners, and other officials across more than 2,000 independent jurisdictions, according to the president of the National Association of Medical Examiners, who was interviewed by Lead Stories. NO: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not control death certificate decisions and has no authority to overrule local medical examiners. NO: There is no conspiracy to falsely inflate the number of COVID-19 deaths.

Related: “How COVID Death Counts Become the Stuff of Conspiracy Theories” (Victoria Knight and Julie Appleby, Kaiser Health News).


NO: This video is not live footage of a gas station explosion. YES: This May 7 post on Facebook appears to use video footage from 2014 of a fire exploding at a gas station in Russia, according to the fact-checker Lead Stories.

Note: This is another example of “engagement bait.”

Tip: You can use reverse image search to look for the origin of videos by taking screenshots of different video frames.

Related: “How to find the source of a video (or, how to do a reverse video search)” (Gaelle Faure, AFP Fact Check).

★ NewsLit Picks


“How TikTok personalities are making a name for themselves by delivering news to Gen Z” (Kalina Newman, The Washington Post Magazine).

TikTok videos that aggregate news and offer brief rundowns of the latest headlines are attracting millions of views, many of them among young people, as part of a growing trend on the video platform. About half of Gen Z — often defined as those born in 1997 or after — who use social media as a news source reported getting news on TikTok in a 2020 survey from YPulse, a youth marketing research firm. TikTok “news personalities” are not associated with traditional news organizations but have created videos on some of the year’s biggest stories. The accounts featured in this Washington Post piece, for instance, have tackled topics that include Election Day 2020, pandemic travel restrictions and the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Marcus DiPaola, who posts quick news updates and has 2.5 million followers on TikTok, told the Post: “I want to be the translator from mainstream media to teenagers.”



Quick Picks

“‘Belonging Is Stronger Than Facts’: The Age of Misinformation” (Max Fisher, The New York Times).


“Should kids be taking Fake News 101?” (Marketplace Tech).


“Trump's Facebook ban upheld by Oversight Board” (David Ingram, NBC News).


“Study: Conservative media drove belief of Covid-19 conspiracies” (Brianna Keilar, CNN’s New Day).

  • Note: This CNN report is based on a new study that examined whether a reliance on certain news sources and social media in the United States impacted people’s belief in COVID-19 falsehoods.

Thanks for reading!

Your weekly issue of Get Smart About News is created by Peter Adams (@PeterD_Adams), Suzannah Gonzales and Hannah Covington (@HannahCov) of the News Literacy Project. It is edited by NLP’s Mary Kane (@marykkane).

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Check out NLP's Checkology virtual classroom, where students learn how to navigate today’s information landscape by developing news literacy skills.