Nuance has never been a staple of social media, and bad-faith grifters have only served to increase instances of willful misinterpretation and dangerous games of online telephone. If you’re going to tell a joke, you have to either make it abundantly clear that it’s a joke or enter into it knowing that your goal is to trick a reactionary populace. Twitter user @OfficialSlop learned that the hard way this week they shared a post suggesting that MSNBC replaced footage of real protests with a clip of a flaming cityscape from World War Z, the 2013 zombie action flick with Brad Pitt.
On Monday, @OfficialSlop posted the fictional edit as a joke, even going so far as to write “NOT REAL” on the footage. Nevertheless, it was quickly snatched up by the QAnon sect, the frothing online cult that believes Donald Trump will one day expose Democratic leaders like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for being pedophiles, cannibals, and what have you.
As The Verge reports, even Q, the cult figurehead who shares dispatches via 8kum (formerly 8chan), posted about it. “MSDNC [knowingly] using fake footage? MSDEN pushing [AMERICA ON FIRE] narrative? Why?” they wrote. A few hours later, Q acknowledged their mistake, the latest in an endless flood of false prophecies that never seem to deter the Q faithful. Cults gonna cult.
Alas, Q’s retraction came too late. The image had already proliferated, having been latched onto by culture warriors desperate to discredit the mainstream media and promote Angelfire blogs like PatriotEagleBeagle-dot-com or whatever.
MSNBC confirmed to Reuters that the video was fake. @OfficialSlop, meanwhile, has sought to correct their gaffe, calling the bit “a dumb dumb joke” that was “edited video out of stupid boredom.”
“I dramatically underestimated Twitter,” they added.
@OfficialSlop’s attempts at debunking the original (now-deleted) post, of course, have only a fraction of the likes of the people still sharing it as if it were real.
The lesson? Never underestimate Twitter.
Now, with that sorted, remember how David Fincher almost directed a World War Z sequel? That would’ve been cool.
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