In what appears to be attempts to incite racial ire, malicious social media users have invented stories of white movie-goers being assauled at screenings of the film Black Panther. Photos of other assault victims were circulated on Twitter, with users saying the attacks occurred during showings of the latest Marvel film.
Buzzfeed has determined that one of the images circulating is actually of a Swedish woman attacked in a bar last month. Another image being shared with a false assault claim is from a story about a woman who was locked in an apartment by her boyfriend and assaulted for four hours. And another uses an image of former White House staff secretary Rob Porter's wife, who had publicly accused the politician of domestic abuse earlier this month.
One tweet on the matter, which claimed that black teens attacked white movie-goers, garnered over 400 re-tweets.
Wisconsin politician Paul Nehlen, whose political statements have included a variety of anti-Semitic beliefs, has been accused of spreading similar lies on Twitter.
"Ohio woman hospitalized after racially motivated attack at #BlackPanther screening," he wrote on social media, paired with a picture of a woman with a black eye.
Some social media users also claimed that white gangs wearing MAGA hats were attacking minority movie-goers. These claims are also categorically false.
Black Panther, which debuts during Black History Month, has been praised for its representation of non-white main characters.
"Even for black people, often times we're not depicted as diverse as we are," star Lupita Nyong’o told the Daily News. "The cast of this film came from all over the globe. ... Black people from everywhere populated this film. And it was just such a rich moment — and it was a moment where I had hope for a Pan-African identity."
Meanwhile, Twitter has been criticized over its failure to prevent the spread of patently false news stories in the past. The issue has taken on international significance as more evidence of Russian meddling in the 2016 United States presidential election emerges. The social media company has attempted to implement policy changes to improve their platform.
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