Welcome to the Monday edition of Internet Insider, dissecting online disinformation—one dumb conspiracy at a time.
Sign up to receive the Daily Dot’s Internet Insider newsletter for urgent news from the frontline of online.
ONE DUMB CONSPIRACY
Conspiracy blog spreads comedy video as proof that NY Times editor died from booster
Conspiracy theorists believe they have finally found concrete proof that the death of a New York Times editor last month was caused by the COVID-19 vaccine.
But it turns out that the so-called evidence was entirely fabricated.
Carlos Tejada, the deputy Asia editor for the New York Times, passed away on Dec. 17, 2021 due to a heart attack.
Tejada’s death, like so many others, was immediately seized upon by anti-vaxxers despite no evidence that the inoculation had been to blame.
Yet this month, conspiracy theorists uncovered what they were convinced was video of Tejada bragging about receiving the booster shot just hours before his death.
The footage appeared last Monday in an article from the True Defender, a little-known conspiracy blog that regularly carries anti-vax content.
Headlined “NYT Editor Dies Of Heart Attack After Bragging About The Booster,” the article contains footage from a Jan. 8 tweet in which Tejada is alleged to discuss receiving his booster shot.
The individual in the video can be heard defending the booster and mocking anti-vaccine talking points. A still image of a statement made by Tejada’s wife concerning her husband’s death by heart attack is attached to the end of the footage as well.
But the individual in the footage is not Tejada. And the original video does not contain the screenshot from Tejada’s wife either.
Mystics are taking over social media platforms like TikTok. It never takes long before a tarot reading pops up on your For You page. If you’re thinking about getting into the tarot game, we’ve got you covered. Your tarot journey starts with choosing the right deck.
From esoteric classic decks to pop culture-inspired works of art, here are the best tarot decks and books to read your future.
The video actually shows Canadian comedian Stewart Reynolds, who shared the original video to his Twitter account on Dec. 17.
Shortly after the article from the True Defender started going viral, Reynolds responded in a follow-up tweet denouncing the false claim that he was actually Tejada.
“It was brought to my attention today that one of my videos has been edited into an anti-vaccination clip suggesting that I died after my booster shot and that I’m a NYT editor…” Reynolds wrote. “To clarify, and as is plainly evident: I am not a NYT editor.”
The Daily Dot reached out to the True Defender to inquire over whether it was aware that the video it featured did not in fact show Tejada. The True Defender did not immediately respond.
It remains unclear whether the True Defender merely failed to fact-check the tweet or if it purposely promoted what it knew to be a false claim.
The Daily Dot also investigated the article’s author Ava Garcia, an alleged journalist with 7 years of experience in the industry.
The Daily Dot was unable to find any further information on Garcia online.
Even more interesting, Henry Ajder, a synthetic media expert with Metaphysic.ai, told the Daily Dot that he believed the image used for Garcia had been created with artificial intelligence (AI).
Twitter has since responded to the false claim by disabling all retweets and replies on the tweet that shared the falsely attributed video.
DAILY DOT PICKS
- Everyone’s favorite NSFW party game has expanded to over 50 decks, but not all expansion packs are created equal. We ranked the top 15 Cards Against Humanity expansion packs everyone should have.*
- Not shockingly, anti-vaxxers immediately claimed that actor Bob Saget died because of a COVID booster shot.
- Have you heard of Lolita fashion? It’s Kawaii culture meets the Victorian era, so think ruffled sleeves, circle skirts, and lacey fabric. Here’s how to perfect the latest Japanese fashion trend.*
- Apparently drinking your own urine is the latest anti-vaxxer cure for COVID vaccine side effects.
*The Daily Dot may receive a commission in connection with purchases of products or services featured here.
Now Playing: “Stay Young” by Oasis