Fake Atlantic headline on white supremacy spreads online

·2-min read

Social media users are claiming The Atlantic published an article declaring white supremacy a "multi-racial movement" after a man rammed a van containing a Nazi flag into barriers near the White House. This is false; the US magazine -- a frequent target of misinformation -- confirmed to AFP it posted no such story.

"White Supremacy is now a multi-racial movement," says what appears to be a headline from The Atlantic shared in a May 24, 2023 tweet.

The supposed article features a photo of a U-Haul truck and a subheading that says: "It can no longer be denied."

<span>Screenshot from Twitter taken May 25, 2023</span>
Screenshot from Twitter taken May 25, 2023

Images of the purported story spread across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms and message boards after 19-year-old Sai Varshith Kandula allegedly crashed a rented box truck into bollards near the White House on May 22, 2023.

Prosecutors later said Kandula, who displayed a red-and-black flag with a swastika at the scene, is not a US citizen. He told authorities he believes Nazis "have a great history" and that he hoped to "seize power" and "kill the president," according to court filings.

However, the supposed Atlantic headline about the incident is not authentic.

"This is a fabricated image with a fake headline," said Anna Bross, the magazine's senior vice president of communications, in a May 25 email. "It is not a real Atlantic article."

The made-up story does not match the format of other headlines from The Atlantic, which capitalizes the first letter of most words.

AFP could also find no matching articles in live or archived versions of the website. 

On May 17, staff writer Adam Serwer did publish a story titled, "Latinos Can Be White Supremacists." The article addressed comments from some US conservatives and Twitter owner Elon Musk about a May 6 attack in Allen, Texas, in which a Hispanic man with Nazi tattoos opened fire at an outlet mall, killing eight people.

AFP has debunked other misinformation targeting The Atlantic -- including another fake headline mentioning white supremacy -- here, here and here.