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The word “Satan” was not flashed on a screen behind The Weeknd during his halftime show performance at Super Bowl LV.
Images depicting such an incident actually show a 2017 concert in Copenhagen.
In a solo performance that began in the stands and ended on the field inside Raymond James Stadium, The Weeknd ran through his biggest hits for Super Bowl LV’s halftime show.
Over 14 minutes, the R&B star performed a medley of his top songs before a live audience of 24,700 in Tampa, Fla. and millions of viewers at home.
The event inspired a lot of memes and, as we found, fueled misinformation online, with some social media users falsely claiming The Weeknd used the NFL’s platform for a tribute to Satan.
"Satan flashed in the halftime Super Bowl satanic ritual," said the text in several viral Facebook posts, which shared screenshots of a tweet that has since been deleted. (A similar tweet from the same account remains up; it says, "Satan flashed in the ritual.")
The Facebook posts were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
The posts rely on a photo that shows the word "Satan" flashed in red lights behind The Weeknd as he performed on stage. The photo is real, but it wasn’t captured during Super Bowl LV.
In reality, the "Satan" incident took place during a 2017 concert The Weeknd gave in Copenhagen, Denmark, as other fact-checkers also reported. Several minutes into his performance of the song "Reminder," the word flashed briefly on a screen behind him, videos posted to YouTube show.
A 2017 YouTube video highlighting what happened in 2017 also circulated widely on Facebook in the wake of The Weeknd’s Super Bowl performance on Feb. 7.
We can’t say why the word "Satan" was used at the 2017 concert, despite searching for a credible explanation online. But we can say the word did not appear during his Super Bowl halftime show.
False claims about Satan often align with the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory, which holds among other beliefs that the world is run by powerful people who belong to a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles.
We rate these Facebook posts False.
Newsweek, "Fact Check: Did The Word 'SATAN' Appear During The Weeknd's Super Bowl Halftime Show?" Feb. 8, 2021
NFL on YouTube, "The Weeknd’s FULL Pepsi Super Bowl LV Halftime Show," Feb. 7, 2021
Knowledgeispower on YouTube, "The Weeknd Flashing SATAN On Stage," Aug. 26, 2017
Enjoytheartist on YouTube, "The Weeknd - Reminder (LIVE) Royal Arena, Copenhagen," Feb. 21, 2017
The Weeknd on Twitter, Oct. 31, 2016
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