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FACT CHECK REPORT DECEMBER 23, 2022

Brianna Corrie, Counter Threat Strategic Communications (CTSC) Team

Christie Hui, Editor

Elon Musk[1]

Claim: A screenshot of a Fox News Facebook post attributing a quotation from George Orwell’s novel, Animal Farm, has circulated online among liberal users. The quotation read, “all animals are equal but some are more equal than others.” The screenshot also contained a link to an article on the Fox News website.[2]

Facts:

  • Users changed the background color of the original image and replaced Musk’s original quotation with the one from Orwell’s novel. The initial text said, “criticizing me all day long is totally fine, but doxxing my real-time location and endangering my family is not.” Musk was referring to the banning of several journalists who posted the location of his private jet on Twitter.[3]

  • The post combines the incorrect quotation with the genuine article link. The article discusses the controversy of removing the accounts of liberal public figures and news sources from Twitter.[4]

  • The source of the doctored photo is @beingliberal on Instagram, which is a verified account for Democrats and has over 149K followers. Instagram has flagged the post as misleading but has not deleted or affected the post in any other way.[5]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The post almost certainly depicts Musk as a power-hungry elite as Orwell originally wrote and synthesized the quotation to highlight the corruption and hypocrisy of elites. Individuals concerned about free speech restrictions on Twitter after Musk became CEO will likely compare Musk’s actions to Orwell’s parody of the systemic abuse typically found in communist societies. Many people, especially in the West, will likely understand the quote as it is a well-known reference.

  • The post is likely to attract a wide range of people and increase political polarization among users, as the Fox News article likely attracts Republicans’ attention, and the account’s content likely attracts Democrats from its current following. The post will likely increase public discourse regarding Musk’s ownership of the platform and public concerns about Twitter’s policies reflecting Musk’s personal beliefs.

  • Linking a genuine article with a doctored quotation and using an account with a verified status and large following almost certainly increase the post’s credibility. The post likely exploits people’s tendency to skim articles’ headlines or highlights to consume news quickly. The fast consumption and lack of fact-checking will likely expedite the rate at which users share the doctored post and false information.

Verdict: FALSE

 

[1]Elon Musk Presenting Tesla’s Fully Autonomous Future” by Steve Jurvetson licensed under CC BY 2.0

[2] Fact Check- Altered Fox News post attributes quote from the novel Animal Farm to Elon Musk, Reuters, December 2022, https://www.reuters.com/article/factcheck-musk-fox-quote/fact-check-altered-fox-news-post-attributes-quote-from-the-novel-animal-farm-to-elon-musk-idUSL1N33915V

[3] TABLES HAVE TURNED, Facebook, December 2022, https://www.facebook.com/FoxNews/photos/10162071378016336

[4] Twitter suspends CNN, NYT, WaPo journalists, Elon Musk alleges they’re banned for ‘doxxing’ his family, Fox News, December 2022, https://www.foxnews.com/media/twitter-suspends-cnn-nyt-wapo-journalists-critical-elon-musk-sparks-viral-uproar?intcmp=fb_fnc

[5] The latest from the #1 #freespeech advocate in #America, Instagram, December 2022, https://www.instagram.com/p/CmOBjx3ug86/?%3Big_rid=06dd2bc7-7242-4320-a9d5-bc2eb9cb43ec


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