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New York Times ‘headline’ about bullying unvaccinated students is bogus

December 23, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: The New York Times published an opinion piece calling on teachers to permit bullying of unvaccinated students.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. No such article exists. A fabricated headline about bullying was made to look like it came from an opinion piece by the outlet, a spokesperson with The New York Times confirmed.

THE FACTS: Social media users are sharing a screenshot of a bogus headline and attributing it to The New York Times, falsely claiming the outlet encouraged teachers to allow bullying.

The headline reads, “Teachers Should Tolerate Bullying Towards Unvaccinated Children,” while the subhead states, “As heartless as it may sound, it may be the only way to encourage parents to make the right choice.”

The text mirrors the style and format of other articles from the outlet, and some versions of the image shared on social media also included the Times’ logo above the headline.

Many social media users fell for the fabricated post.You won’t want a parent teacher conference with me if this happens to my child,” wrote one Twitter user who shared the post, garnering more than 500 retweets and more than 3,000 likes.

But the headline is not real, a spokesperson with the Times confirmed to The Associated Press.

The New York Times did not write or publish that headline,” the spokesperson wrote in an email.

Google searches for the headline and subhead also yield no results. While the fabricated headline looks similar to the Times’ general style, it includes the word “Opinion” in black, while the paper’s website uses red.

It is not clear where the bogus image first originated. While it picked up traction on social media in recent days, a reverse Google Image search showed a version posted on a web forum from four months ago.

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This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.