Black Panther, the latest Marvel superhero flick to hit theaters, is already breaking records. As Forbes reports, the movie, touted for its representation of African-American superheroes, raked in over $25 million in ticket sales on its Thursday preview alone. Many of the film’s reviews — currently, Black Pantherboasts a 97 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes — have paid homage to Black Panther’s reflection of seemingly evolving racial attitudes in Hollywood and across America.
Unfortunately, a handful of social media trolls appear to have missed the memo, apparently engaging in a campaign designed to mislead and even terrify potential movie-goers, not to mention sow divisive racial tension. As New York Daily News reports, an unknown number of social media users have begun to share images of injured, physically assaulted women, along with warnings that they were attacked by black people at showings of Black Panther.
Proving that the tales of Black Panther assaults are false has proven incredibly simple; at least two of the images used to bolster the made-up claims of physical violence were obviously taken from recent high-profile and completely unrelated incidents of physical violence. Even so, some social media users have fallen for the blatant Black Panther fake news, and it continues to spread.
Be warned, trolls are using images of domestic violence and sexual assault victims to create false reports of violence against white moviegoers who see Black Panther. It isn't happening. Don't fall for this. https://t.co/fbKC3fPCo8— Raven J. Demers (@neversremedy) February 16, 2018
One of the fake Black Panther assault images currently circulating on social media features a photograph of Colbie Holderness, the ex-wife and alleged abuse victim of ex-White House staff member Rob Porter. In addition to Holderness’ face, which clearly displays her black eye (a black eye she claims was caused by Porter’s abuse), the “cautionary” social media post features a claim that the image shows injuries caused by “three black women” at a Black Panther showing.
“Went to the #BlackPanther premier tonight and my wife was assaulted. Three black women approached us and one said ‘This movie ain’t for you white b****’ and then attacked her. Security escorted us to the parking lot and we left. We just wanted to see a movie.”
The second image being widely circulated by social media trolls features a young, bloody-faced blond woman, along with a terrifying caption alleging that a “black teenager” smashed her in the face with a bottle at a Black Panther showing.
If only people would go to this much effort to stop kids getting shot at school— A Hoe For Club Penguin (@hollymbarry) February 16, 2018
Russians Bots— NFL Kneelers (@Report_Kneeler) February 16, 2018
“i went to see #BlackPanther with my gf and a black teenager shouted ‘u at the wrong theater’ and smashed a bottle on her face.”
Unfortunately for the social media trolls behind the divisive fake news, the image they chose to use to substantiate their false claim is that of Sophie Johansson, a 19-year-old Swedish teen. Johansson’s injuries occurred after she was reportedly attacked by a man whose unwanted advances she rebuked.
Other images and stories alleging racially-motivated, unprovoked attacks by young black people at Black Panther at are also circulating on social media, including one that reportedly amounts to nothing more than an image of a blood paper towel. Twitter has also reportedly suspended at least one account in connection with the false claims.