Sunday, February 19, 2012

WBC uses PhotoShopped image, Twitter to fake protest at Whitney Houston funeral

Westboro Baptist Church said they were going to protest at the Saturday funeral of Whitney Houston, claiming that she was guilty of sorcery. They actually never showed up at the funeral, but they did try to use social media to manipulate people into thinking they did.

The Westboro Baptist Church has previously stated that God is punishing the United States because of America's acceptance of homosexuality; it has said that the deaths of the military overseas are a reprisal for that. The church has gained infamy for picketing, attempting to picket, or threatening to picket the funerals of military personnel and public figures.

While the church never made it to any of those, it attempted to fake people into thinking it at least made it to Whitney Houston's funeral. It posted an image to Twitter (shown above) that purported to show WBC pickets at the New Hope Baptist Church, where Houston's funeral took place.

The Tweet, from Margie Phelps, the daughter of WBC pastor Fred Phelps, said,

"Did my friends @BET see these lovelies? Such fun singing to @OccupyWallSt This picket is rocking the house! @NJ_News"

However, the New Jersey Star-Ledger had reporters in the exact area that was shown in the image, and confirmed that no protesters had been in the location shown in the image, which was apparently PhotoShopped.

In the past, the church has threatened to protest at the funeral of Christina Taylor-Green, the nine-year-old girl killed during the 2011 Tuscon shootings, the funeral of Steve Jobs, and Whitney Houston. It did not manage to protest at any of those funerals.

While the church is very active on Twitter, this is the first time in memory that it has blatantly lied about making a protest appearance, at least at a high-profile event.

Social media has been used before to spread actual news, but it's also been used to post fake news, like several "this celebrity is dead" Tweets were are sure you are aware of.

The lesson to be learned is that you can't necessarily believe what you see posted to the Internet, whether it is a Tweet, a post on Facebook, or a high-profile blogger posting slanderous comments / lies about a politician.

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