Fact check: Fabricated doctor tweet about COVID-19 vaccine circulates – USA TODAY

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Neil Young to quit Spotify over Joe Rogan’s vaccine misinformation

Rock legend Neil Young demanded his team to remove his music from Spotify in response to Joe Rogan’s spread of COVD-19 vaccine misinformation.

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The claim: Image shows a doctor tweeting she would not regret taking the COVID-19 vaccine even if it killed her

A Jan. 2 Instagram post (direct link, archive link) purports to show a screenshot of a tweet

“I will never regret the vaccine,” reads the text. “Even if it turns out I injected actual poison and have only days to live. My heart and is was (sic) in the right place. I got vaccinated out of love, while antivaxxers did everything out of hate. If I have to die because of my love for the world, then so be it. But I will never regret or apologize for it.”

The Instagram user expressed disbelief over the doctor’s sentiment.

“I always wondered what they would begin telling themselves once they realize we were right, but I could have never guessed this one,” the user said.

The Instagram post received more than 700 likes in a week.

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Our rating: Altered

The image is not authentic. The doctor in question said the tweet is fabricated, and nothing resembling it can be found on her now-private Twitter account or on archived versions of her account. The message in the fake tweet also exceeds Twitter’s character limit.

False tweet attributed to doctor who advocated COVID-19 for vaccination

The physician the tweet is attributed to, Dr. Natalia Solenkova, is a critical care medicine specialist in Florida who amassed more than 30,000 Twitter followers. Her account is now private, but she posted several messages on it where she states the supposed tweet is “fake tweet fraudulently made under my authorship” and complains about not being able to get it taken out of circulation.

There is no message resembling the tweet on her account or on archived versions of her account.

Perhaps the clearest sign the image is fraudulent is the message’s length. Tweets are currently limited to 280 characters and the message is more than 330 characters. Twitter CEO Elon Musk indicated in December that he wanted to greatly expand the character limit, but nothing has changed yet.

The purported tweet was discussed as if it were authentic on a Jan. 4 episode of “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast. A note was later appended to the podcast saying the tweet had turned out to be fake. The episode was then taken down in its entirety, before finally being restored with the segment eliminated.

“I was informed last night that this tweet is fake,” Rogan tweeted on Jan. 5. “The show was already out, so we initially decided to post a notice saying we got tricked, then later thought it best to just delete it from the episode. My sincere apologies to everyone, especially the person who got hoaxed.”

USA TODAY could not reach Solenkova for comment, but she told NBC News she has been harassed since the image began circulating.

“This time I didn’t come across death threats, but I’m not looking,” she told NBC. “I’ve probably blocked a thousand accounts.”

Fact check: Claim that Joe Rogan lost Spotify deal originated as satire

USA TODAY reached out to the Instagram user who shared the post for comment.

AFP also debunked the image.

Our fact-check sources:

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Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

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