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‘Black Lives Matter Says It Stands with Hamas’ Fox News Stealth Edit

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Fox News published a headline proclaiming "Black Lives Matter said it stands with Hamas," then altered the headline.

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On May 19 2021, Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) tweeted that Fox News had reported a story with the headline, “Black Lives Matter says it stands with Hamas,” which the network later quietly retracted:

Burke included four screenshots of the original headline with his tweet, and wrote:

Fox News published a false headline, attempted hours later to correct it, but not until it had been syndicated to thousands of affiliates who subsequently made no attempt to correct it

All four headlines began: “Black Lives Matter says it stands with Hamas …”

On Reddit, a post to r/worldnews appeared to include what Burke claimed was the original headline (“Black Lives Matter says it stands with Hamas terrorists in Israeli conflict. [WTF]”):

Black Lives Matter says it stands with Hamas terrorists in Israeli conflict. WTF from worldnews

That post pointed to a Fox News article published close to midnight on May 18 2021. Thirteen hours later, the headline read:

Black Lives Matter ‘stands in solidarity’ with Palestinians, vows to fight for ‘Palestinian liberation’

We searched for any form of correction, editor’s note, or other indication the page or its headline had been meaningfully altered after publication — dereliction of duty to do so is commonly described as “stealth editing.” The only hint that it had been so radically changed was in the date and timestamps:

Published 13 hours ago
Last Update 4 hours ago

Absent an editor’s note or an equivalent, readers were left in the dark about content they’d read and possibly shared to their personal social media pages. Moreover, it seemed likely the body of the article was altered to match the updated headline.

However, Google search results had not updated to the “new” headline, and the original was still visible when we searched:

black lives matter stands with hamas

Archive.is only featured the “Black Lives Matter ‘stands in solidarity’ with Palestinians, vows to fight for ‘Palestinian liberation'” version of the item. But web.archive.org archived the article eight minutes after publication, and displayed the title Burke referenced in his tweet.

Originally, it began:

Black Lives Matter says it stands with Hamas terrorists in Israeli conflict

The leading Black Lives Matter organization declared “solidarity with Palestinians” Monday, a week after Hamas terrorists in Gaza began firing a relentless barrage of rockets into Israel, indiscriminately shelling civilian targets as well as dropping some missiles short and blowing up buildings within its territory.

“Black Lives Matter stands in solidarity with Palestinians,” the group tweeted. “We are a movement committed to ending settler colonialism in all forms and will continue to advocate for Palestinian liberation. ( always have. And always will be ). #freepalestine.”

The announcement prompted a “thank you” tweet from the controversial Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS, which has for years called for an economic embargo of Israel.

By contrast, the live version at 11:43 AM on May 19 2021 read:

Black Lives Matter ‘stands in solidarity’ with Palestinians, vows to fight for ‘Palestinian liberation’

The leading Black Lives Matter organization declared “solidarity with Palestinians” Monday, a week after Hamas terrorists in Gaza began firing a relentless barrage of rockets into Israel, indiscriminately shelling civilian targets as well as dropping some missiles short and blowing up buildings within its territory.

“Black Lives Matter stands in solidarity with Palestinians,” the group tweeted. “We are a movement committed to ending settler colonialism in all forms and will continue to advocate for Palestinian liberation. ( always have. And always will be ). #freepalestine.”

The announcement prompted a “thank you” tweet from the controversial Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS, which has for years called for an economic embargo of Israel.

Archived copies of articles can be incomplete, but it appeared that a tweet was added to the article after it was published. That tweet was directly quoted but not embedded in the archived version; clearly the author was familiar with its wording when they authored the first headline (in disappearing ink):

Published at 9:52 AM on May 17 2021 by the verified account @Blklivesmatter, it read:

Black Lives Matter stands in solidarity with Palestinians. We are a movement committed to ending settler colonialism in all forms and will continue to advocate for Palestinian liberation. ( always have. And always will be ). #freepalestine

Unlike Fox News articles, tweets cannot be edited or altered after their publication. Black Lives Matter (@Blklivesmatter) made no mention of Hamas in its tweet, and it wasn’t clear why the author of the Fox News headline made the initial claim.

On May 19 2021, a claim appeared that “Fox News published a false headline, attempted hours later to correct it, but not until it had been syndicated to thousands of affiliates who subsequently made no attempt to correct it”; the original headline read: “Black Lives Matter says it stands with Hamas terrorists in Israeli conflict.” Timothy Burke’s claim was accurate, as evidenced by Google’s cache, Reddit shares, and archived versions of the article. Not only did Fox News meaningfully alter its headline, it also neglected to add a correction or editor’s note to its reporting — despite having quoted the source tweet in the first published version of the piece. As such, it was True that Fox News falsely reported Black Lives Matter said it “stands with Hamas.”