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A tweet about British Prime Minister Boris Johnson swimming after his July 7 resignation came from an imposter Twitter account altered to resemble a BBC News page.
The image of Johnson at the beach is not current; it’s from a video taken in June 2021.
An imposter Twitter account posing as an affiliate of the BBC circulated an old, out-of-context photo of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and falsely claimed it showed him at the beach after he announced his resignation as Conservative Party leader.
"BREAKING: Following his resignation, Boris Johnson has escaped to the sea," said the July 7 tweet, which showed an image of Johnson running into the water and quickly went viral.
The "BCC News" Twitter account created parody content, however; social media users who clicked to its page would see that its bio said, "fake news not real, not affiliated with BBC."
The tweet about Johnson went viral. Many users reshared it as a joke, and copycat tweets spread across the platform.
The 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.)
But the reshares and replies to the original tweet suggested that some people thought it came from an authentic BBC News account, and that the photo of Johnson at the beach was current.
The image of Johnson was not taken after his resignation. It was cribbed from a video of him jogging and swimming at a beach in Cornwall, England, in June 2021. Johnson was in Cornwall then for a summit of seven leading industrial nations. The Sun, a British tabloid newspaper, published several screenshots from the video to its website at the time, under a headline that likened Johnson to "Baywatch" actor David Hasselhoff.
This tweet from a fake BBC News account is going viral, with not everyone realizing it's a joke. The account's bio says it is "fake news not real" and unaffiliated with the BBC. The photo of Johnson is from a video captured in June 2021; it's not current. https://t.co/yLm59IL5fz pic.twitter.com/e4uzjw7Gv0— Bill McCarthy (@billdmccarthy) July 7, 2022
We rate the tweets claiming that an image shows that "following his resignation, Boris Johnson has escaped to the sea" False.
Tweet, July 7, 2022
BCC News on Twitter, accessed July 7, 2022
Facebook post, July 7, 2022
CrowdTangle, accessed July 8, 2022
ABC News on Facebook, "UK PM Boris Johnson enjoys an early morning swim at G7 summit," June 13, 2021
Statement from Twitter, July 8, 2022
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