Los Angeles — Looking to back up his deeply dubious declaration this week that slavery was a "choice," Kanye West tweeted a Harriet Tubman quote that was flat-out false.
"I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves," Tubman didn't say , though West said she did.
If West has become the crown prince of celebrity wrongheadedness, he's far from alone. He leads a legion of similar stars, including those right here on South African soil, who spread myths, lies and misinformation daily.
LET'S TAKE A LOOK:
1. Black Coffee
Popular DJ Black Coffee and his wife, actress Enhle Mbali, shared photos on social media of themselves next to a personalised private jet on Wednesday.
Even though the couple didn't say they purchased the luxury aircraft, they also didn't say they didn't. But there was definitely an implied sense that the well-known DJ made the extravagant purchase.
So much so, that numerous publications ran with the story that Black Coffee bought his very own private jet. Channel24 approached Black Coffee's camp for comment and after receiving no feedback decided not to publish anything on the matter.
Two days later, the DJ finally come out with the truth, saying: "Thanks for all the Congratulations but no, I didn't buy a jet. I'm renting it for the Summer."
It's a thin line between withholding information and posting something that could deliberately be misleading. Media and fans alike have a responsibility to check the facts before sharing them.
2. Bonang Matheba
Local TV personality Bonang Matheba sparked rumours that she had purchased Rust en Vrede Wine Estate in Stellenbosch in January.
The Being Bonang reality star posted several photos of the wine estate on social media on Thursday with one captioned: "I've always wanted a vineyard."
The cryptic post lead to "Bonang" and "Girls with Vineyards" trending on Twitter, a flood of congratulation messages and news outlets blatantly reporting the rumours as facts.
Amidst the social media storm, Bonang never once confirmed or denied rumours. But Channel24 was on it. Speaking to Celebrity Services Africa's communication director, Davin Phillips, it was confirmed that Bonang had not purchased Rust en Vrede Wine Estate but was simply having a "business lunch."
3. Lasizwe Dambuza
Local social influencer, Lasizwe Dambuza declared on social media that he had bought his first house in Sandton, in February.
The popular star shared a clip on social media celebrating the achievement, writing: "Dear Mom, Your son bought a house! From Pimville Soweto to Sandton," he captioned the posts which sees him dancing in his new place." (He later changed the Instagram caption)
It was not long after the announcement, that Lasizwe's big sister, Khanyi Mbau called him out on his lies, saying that he should tell the truth: That he is only renting the apartment.
Speaking to Drum Lasizwe set the record straight, saying: "Marcus [his partner] bought me the place, so technically I didn't lie because it's mine but it's just not yet under my name."
4. Bontle Modiselle and Ricardo Moloi (Priddy Ugly)
Last year Bontle and her rapper boyfriend, Priddy Ugly, pulled an epic publicity stunt, when the announced their "engagement" on social media.
The TV host posted a picture of Priddy Ugly proposing to her, a narrative he later corroborated on his Instagram. A week later the couple posted pictures of them in traditional wedding attire, and we all believed the couple tied the knot.
Turned out it was all a publicity stunt for Amanda Black and LaSauce's music video, "I Do."
The celebrity couple aren't the only ones who used their relationship as a public relations tool, Bonang and then boyfriend, AKA, announced their breakup on social media. Only to later reveal it was a publicity stunt for AKA's chart-topper, Caiphus song.
WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY:
There is no reason to believe the average celebrity believes sillier things than the average person, experts said. But the platform that fame provides mixed with easy access to media and some Kanye-style confidence can turn them into unique vectors for falsehoods, especially with social-media algorithms that favour them.
"They tend to be people who get a lot of engagement, people who bump them up," Emily Vraga, a professor at George Mason University who studies media and misinformation, told The Associated Press.
And celebrities tend to have many followers who amplify the effect.
"Other celebrities follow celebrities, journalists follow celebrities, they tap into much more influential pools than most people.
"We like to think that people can judge credibility, but people who are attractive are seen as more credible, people who are popular are more likely to be seen as credible," Vraga said. "They are tweeting to people who are likely to believe them."