NASHVILLE, T.N. (WGHP) — A screenshot of a tweet purporting to be from a Nashville news outlet quoting a shooting victim’s parent using incendiary anti-trans language is fake, according to the new site’s actual Twitter.
A Tweet made rounds across the internet, claiming to be from WSMV 4 Nashville, saying that the “father of murderer (sic) girl” called for “an end to tolerance” and vowed to “fight with every fiber of my being the end of the trans evil.”
WSMV 4 Nashville tweeted that this is fake and that they did not post this. There is no link to a news story, no images or video, or name of the victim or parent that allegedly said this included with the falsified tweet. A visit to the WSMV 4 website shows no stories with a similar headline or body text.
An Associated Press fact-check confirms that the Tweet and quotes are fabricated. No news outlets have reported any parents of Nashville victims saying anything like what is quoted.
The shooter at the Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee was identified as a 28-year-old transgender man, born Audrey Hale. The shooter’s motive has not been released, but law enforcement said that Hale did not target specific people, but had once been a student at The Covenant School.
Hale makes three reported transgender mass shooters among hundreds of incidents. In 2019, a 16-year-old transgender boy in Denver was one of two students to carry out a school shooting. In 2018, a transgender woman shot several of her coworkers at a Rite Aid warehouse in Aberdeen, Maryland. Workplace conflicts are a common motivator for mass shootings.
The defense for Anderson Arlich, who allegedly shot dozens of people at a Colorado Springs gay club in late 2022, has claimed that Arlich is non-binary, but critics have called it an attempt to avoid hate crime charges for the shooting, and neighbors reported Arlich had vocal anti-LGBTQ beliefs. Arlich is included in some counts of transgender shooters, bringing the number to four.
There have been around 130 mass shootings in the United States since the beginning of 2023, with Nashville marking the only incident reported to involve a transgender suspect this year.
On the other side of things, violence against the transgender community has been steadily increasing, year over year, with at least 34 transgender or gender non-conforming people killed in 2022, and at least 45 killed in 2021, the Human Rights Campaign reports.
There have been at least 7 deaths of transgender or gender non-conforming people reported in 2023, including a trans woman who was killed in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Spotting fake tweets
The Global Investigative Journalism Network released guidance on how to spot fake tweets when they circulate as screenshots, the way the fake WSMV tweet did.
They recommend going to the account that allegedly tweeted the statement and searching for the tweet before anything else. If you cannot find a tweet in someone’s Twitter feed, there’s a chance that it could be fake, whether created by a generator or in photo editing software.
Internet Archive and services like the Wayback Machine can be used to confirm that it wasn’t a tweet that was sent and then deleted later.
You can also use Google’s reverse image search to see if anyone else has already fact-checked the tweet, or if it’s circulated anywhere else.
Additionally, outlets like the Associated Press will often release their own fact-checks if a fake tweet or image circulates widely enough, and Politwoops archives deleted tweets from politicians and political organizations.