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Fact Check-Article about Elon Musk and free speech originated as satire

An article by a website that describes itself as “the most reliable source of fake news in the planet” has tricked some users online, who interpreted the piece as authentic.

The article entitled “CNN: Elon Musk could threaten free speech on Twitter by literally allowing people to speak freely” was originally published by Geniuses Times ( here ).

On the bottom banner of its website, Geniuses Times states its content is “fake news” and includes the phrase “Seriously.shareable.Satire” ( here ).

Some online, however, have since shared a screengrab of the satirical piece taking it seriously. Examples on Facebook are viewable ( here ) ( here ) ( here ).

The satirical article also includes a fabricated screenshot of a purported CNN report. The image of CNN anchor Don Lemon appears to come from a Jan. 28, 2020, segment ( here ). The chyron and the image of Musk have been digitally included.

Matt Dornic, head of strategic communications at CNN, told Reuters via email that “CNN never aired that chyron.”

While the screenshot circulated online itself cites Geniuses Times, some social media users appear to believe CNN was the source.

Comments include: “Looks like CNN is sticking with their usual line of nonsensical drivel.” “The sick and sad thing is that, to many CNN viewers, this makes perfect sense” and “I always thought free speech was speaking freely...why does CNN think it’s a threat?”

Elon Musk disclosed a 9.2% stake in Twitter Inc on April 4. The move comes on the heels of his tweet that he was giving “serious thought” to building a new social media platform, while questioning Twitter’s commitment to free speech. ( here )

VERDICT

Satire. CNN did not report that “Elon Musk could threaten free speech on Twitter by literally allowing people to speak freely.” The allegation originated in a satirical website.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.

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