TikTok video falsely claims Facebook is CIA-run
Claim: Video shows CIA-run Facebook newscast
Viral TikTok video, created by well-known conspiracy theorist, mistakenly interprets satirical 2011 video as evidence Facebook is being secretly exploited by the CIA The video gives no indication that the green screen video clip it uses is from by The Onion.
“I guess our right to privacy has been overtaken by the elite at this point,” TikToker @ verntheories2.0 says in the April 14 video. “Did you know?”
The video garnered more than 872,600 views on TikTok and spread to Facebook and Instagram.
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@ verntheories2.0 is known to promote conspiracy theories to its 10,800 followers. His biography reads: “Strictly real-time conspiracies”. His recent publications include theories of an alternate matrix reality, secret reptiles, and unsubstantiated anti-vaccination claims.
He includes the #redpill hashtags in several of his articles. The term “red pill” refers to a moment of political awakening that leads an individual to shift perspective towards a more authentic reality. The Red Pill does not necessarily indicate extremist beliefs although it has become widely associated with QAnon.
In the comments section, a few TikTok users questioned the source of the clip while others expressed skepticism about Facebook’s motives.
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Due to privacy settings, @ verntheories2.0 could not be sent through the TikTok app. USA TODAY has reached out to several Facebook and Instagram users who shared the video for comment.
The Onion produced the video in 2011
On March 21, 2011, the popular satirical outlet The Onion released the video, which calls Facebook “a massive surveillance operation for the CIA.”
In the video, The Onion called Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg a CIA agent who runs Facebook’s “day-to-day operations” for the agency and joked that Zuckerberg’s code name was “The Overlord.” .
Acting as Deputy Director of the CIA in a congressional hearing scene, writer Onion Christopher Sartinsky joked about people’s willingness to share personal information online.
“After years of secretly monitoring the public, we were amazed that so many people willingly made known their place of residence, religious and political views, an alphabetical list of all their friends, personal e-mail addresses, telephone numbers. phone, hundreds of photos of themselves and even status updates on what they were doing every moment. It really is a dream come true for the CIA, ”he said.
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Misunderstandings about the video’s satirical source fueled further false claims on Facebook that USA TODAY also debunked.
Our rating: False
We are evaluating the claim that the news reported on Facebook was a secret CIA surveillance program FALSE because it is not supported by our research. The video was originally posted by satirical media and has since been shared by a TikTok conspiracy theory account. The TikTok video gives no indication that the claims made in the video are from jokes.
Our sources of fact-checking:
- @ verntheories2.0, accessed April 29, TikTok profile
- @ verntheories2.0, accessed April 27, TikTok video
- @ verntheories2.0, accessed April 21, TikTok video
- @ verntheories2.0, accessed April 15, TikTok video
- Anti-Defamation League, November 6, 2019, The Extremist Medicine Cabinet: A Guide to Online “Pills”
- YouTube, BBC Newsnight, August 16, 2018, Conspiracy Theories: QAnon and the Red Pill of Truth – BBC Newsnight
- The Onion, March 21, 2011, CIA’s ‘Facebook’ program dramatically reduced agency costs
- USA TODAY, July 28, 2020, Fact Check: Mark Zuckerberg is not David Rockefeller’s grandson