Articles and social media posts have claimed that DiCaprio is connected to Ukraine because his maternal grandmother was born in the Ukrainian city of Odessa. Some articles claimed that DiCaprio’s donation of $10 million was announced by an organization called the International Visegrad Fund.
The saga of the $10 million nonexistent donation is a case study of how bad information can spread from the fringes of the internet to the mainstream media — with outlet after outlet, both large and small, simply repeating the story without independently checking it.
Patrick Karpin, founder of GSA News, stood behind the article on Wednesday afternoon, even after being informed that a source close to DiCaprio had told CNN that its contents were false. “I really trust my source inside Ukraine,” Karpin said in an email to CNN.
Karpin explained that his primary source for DiCaprio’s supposed $10 million donation was a Facebook post from a Ukrainian woman whose posts about the war with Russia were generally accurate. Karpin said he also saw other Ukrainians on Facebook posting a message about the supposed donation.
Karpin said that because his Guyana website had few readers, he thought that if he published an article that repeated DiCaprio’s story and turned out to be wrong, he could quietly delete the article within days.
“I thought it wouldn’t have much of a consequence if it was wrong,” he said.
Instead, he said, he watched with astonishment and dismay when “the story escalated in everyone’s news publications, some with millions of followers. And that kind of anxiety….”
However, he admitted he had received an allegation from ostensibly Facebook stickers.
To Twitter, then another obscure website, then the main ports
Whether it was because of a GSA News article, because of the Ukrainians’ Facebook posts or for some other reason, the story about DiCaprio started going viral on Sunday.
Over 10,000 Retweets
Regardless, Visegrád 24’s tweet has been retweeted more than 10,000 times. It was deleted Wednesday afternoon after CNN told the account that the story about the $10 million donation was false.
“Looks like we’ve fallen prey to a fake story. Talk to the best of us!” A representative of the account said in a message to CNN on Wednesday.
So where did the account get its information? “We saw the story tweeted by several small news accounts, citing an anonymous source,” the actor said.
Major ports capture the story
On Monday, the day after Visegrád 24’s tweet was posted, the story really took off.
Again, this is not true. The fund’s director of public relations, Lucia Bykova, said in an email Wednesday to CNN that the fund had made no such announcement.
The Polish news may have confused the International Visegrad Fund with the Visegrád 24 Twitter account. By Wednesday, the Polish news article had been edited to remove the reference to the International Visegrad Fund – and the site didn’t express much confidence in the rest of the story. Polish news representative Artur Salamunczyk said in an email on Wednesday that if CNN learned that DiCaprio had not made a $10 million donation, “we are happy to remove the content.”
The news agency after the news agency reported that Polish news was the main source behind their stories that DiCaprio had donated $10 million to Ukraine.
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