EDITORIAL: Betty White Lie Teaches Valuable Social Media Lesson | Editorial

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A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth puts its shoes on.

At Leader and Crow River Media, we recently got acquainted with this adage.

As some of our readers who also spend time on social media may have seen, a photo was circulated widely last weekend that included a link to a Betty White story with the headline “Betty White:” I am fortunate to be still in good health. Above a photo of White and the web address is a quote that says, ‘Eat healthy and get the shot. Just got boosted today. -Betty White, December 28, 2021.’

White, of course, passed away on December 31, a few weeks before her 100th birthday. The social media photo with the quote appears to imply White died just days after being given a booster shot for COVID-19. The only problem is that there is no record of White actually saying it.

While White’s story – a summary of a larger interview published by People magazine – is true, White never spoke of being vaccinated and never said she received a booster. In fact, White’s agent Jeff Witjas confirmed to The Associated Press that she did not receive a callback on December 28.

Anyone willing to spend a few minutes reading and researching could quite easily determine that the quote was bogus. Sadly, many people aren’t willing to work to determine the accuracy of social media posts, or are more than happy to take something for granted if it fits their preconceptions. This is the fundamental basis of most of the viral hoaxes in the world today.

It’s no surprise to us that someone created a hoax alleging that the COVID-19 booster was responsible for the murder of a celebrity. This type of misinformation is quite common these days, especially in the ongoing war against scientists and healthcare workers. What came as a surprise was that our newspapers were dragged into the hoax.

Whoever created the photo with the fake quote decided to use the Crow River Media web address. It’s unclear if this was an intentional attempt to make us look bad, or if we were just the unlucky one among dozens of news agencies that posted the story on our websites. Either way, we are more than happy to join the chorus of other journalists reporting the facts.

Betty White did not say she received her recall on December 28.

Crow River Media did not quote Betty White as saying she received her recall on December 28.

Crow River Media did not change Betty White’s story to remove a quote saying she received her recall on December 28.

We hope this will remind all of us to be savvy consumers of news and other information online.


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