FACT CHECK: Does This Image Show An Anti-China Facebook Post By The Suspected Atlanta Spa Shooter?
An image shared on social media purportedly shows an anti-China Facebook post from Robert Aaron Long, the man arrested in connection to the Atlanta-area spa shootings.
The Facebook post has been fabricated. A Facebook spokesperson confirmed on Twitter that the screen grabs are fake and that the company is taking them down.
Long, who was apprehended late Tuesday, is the suspect in three shootings at spas in the greater Atlanta area that left eight people dead, according to the Wall Street Journal. Six of the eight victims were Asian women, CNN reported.
In the wake of the shootings, an allegedly screen grabbed Facebook post from Long started circulating on Facebook and Twitter. The text in the supposed Facebook post calls China the “greatest evil of our time” and calls for “all Americans” to “fight back against China.”
Check Your Fact examined the image and found it has indicators that it is not a genuine Facebook post. For one, the lettering of Long’s name is blue, whereas Facebook names use black lettering – or white, if the user has “Dark Mode” on. The profile picture is also not aligned properly, further suggesting the post has been fabricated.
New York Times reporter Davey Alba was one of the first to point out the visual flaws in the fake screen grab, calling it “manipulated media” on Twitter. (RELATED: Did Germany Send China A Bill For ‘Coronavirus Damages’?)
PSA: This screenshot of a supposed post by the suspected Atlanta shooter is spreading on social media but it is a hoax. If you look closely at the positioning of the user pic and the Reactions, you’ll see the graphics are misaligned. This is manipulated media. (H/T @btdecker) pic.twitter.com/Tb7vzqyEwG
— Davey Alba (@daveyalba) March 17, 2021
“PSA: This screenshot of a supposed post by the suspected Atlanta shooter is spreading on social media but it is a hoax,” Alba tweeted. “If you look closely at the positioning of the user pic and the Reactions, you’ll see the graphics are misaligned. This is manipulated media.”
Andy Stone, Facebook’s policy communications manager, confirmed on Twitter that the post is fake. Facebook removed an Instagram profile the company believed to be linked to Long, CNN reported.
Yes, these screenshots are fake and we’re removing them from the platform for violating our policies.
— Andy Stone (@andymstone) March 17, 2021
“Yes, these screenshots are fake and we’re removing them from the platform for violating our policies,” Stone tweeted.
The Washington Post reported that Long allegedly told investigators that he blamed his “sex addiction” for the shootings and did not have a racial motive. Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds told CNBC on Wednesday that investigators had not ruled out race as a motive.
Violence against Asian-Americans has been rising during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to The New York Times.