Fact Check: How a False Story About Leonardo DiCaprio’s $10 Million Donation to Ukraine Spread Around the World

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.

Bad story

On Saturday, a mysterious website called GSA News, which focuses on news about the South American country of Guyana, published, short article Alleging that “sources inside Ukraine” said DiCaprio “transferred ten million US dollars to the Ukrainian government.” She added that DiCaprio “has Ukrainian roots from his maternal grandmother.”

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.

But on Wednesday night, Karpin called CNN to say “I deeply apologize” for the false story, that he “had no ill intention in publishing that article,” and that he was going to publish a retraction request, which is do later.

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.

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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.

Twitter account called Visegrad 24which tweets news updates focusing on Visegrad Group countries in Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic to more than 196,000 followers, posted a tweet – without quoting sources – claiming “Leonardo DiCaprio donated US$10 million to Ukraine. His maternal grandmother was an Odessa-born.” Ukraine!”
Allegations that DiCaprio’s maternal grandmother Helen Indenbirkin was born in Ukraine in general or in Odessa in particular, have been circulating on the Internet for years. However, these claims have not been linked to a solid source. Indenbirken Died in 2008 in Germany where she used to live; It wasn’t clear on Thursday where she was actually born, and a source close to DiCaprio wouldn’t say.

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.

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“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.

that condition On another obscure website, Polish News, it was reported that DiCaprio “has allocated up to $10 million to support Ukraine and did not plan to announce it to the whole world” — but, on Sunday, the donation was announced by the International Visegrad Fund, an international organization Donor set up by the governments of the Visegrad Group.

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.”

By Thursday, she had deleted the article and Post another article He says reports about a $10 million donation from DiCaprio were incorrect. By that time, the horse was out of the barn.

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.

News stories about the $10 million donation have been published by – among others – England independent (who eventually edited her story) and daily mail (whose story has been deleted), India Hindustan Times (whose story remained online as of Friday), Czech Republic Novinki (which eventually published a new story debunking its original origin), euronews In France (who eventually modified her story), and in the United States, an entertainment site ET Online (Which DiCaprio omitted from her story about celebrity donations to Ukraine) and conservative political websites Washington Examiner And the daily caller (They both edited their stories.)
CNN has begun looking at a supposed donation of $10 million after Jane Litvinenko, a senior research fellow at Harvard University’s Shornstein Center for Media, Politics, and Public Policy, raise questions About the accuracy of the viral news on Twitter on Wednesday.

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