August 18, 2021

Several Twitter accounts that look like they belong to some well-known news networks recently shared that a journalist had been captured and killed by the Taliban in Kabul.

But these accounts weren’t authentic and they’ve since been suspended.

“#BREAKING: #CNN Journalist ‘Bernie Gores’ executed in #Kabul by #Taliban soldiers,” read an Aug. 16 tweet from “CNN Afghanistan,” an account with the handle @CNNAfghan. “We are working with US officials to get several more journalists out of Afghanistan at this time. Our thoughts are with Bernies’ family.”

“MSNBC Afghanistan,” an account with the handle @MSNBCAfghan, tweeted: “#BreakingNews: American journalist ‘Bernie Gores’ executed by #Taliban in #Afghanistan (via @CNN).”

And “BBC Afghanistan” — @BBC AfghanNews — tweeted: “Multiple reports out of #Afghanistan state #CNN Journalist ‘Bernie Gores’ has been captured and executed by the #Taliban in #Kabul.”

An Instagram post sharing a screenshot of one of the tweets was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

CNN didn’t immediately respond to PolitiFact’s query about the tweets. But unlike @CNNAfghan, the network’s many Twitter accounts, including @cnn and @cnni, short for CNN International, are verified with a blue checkmark.

The name Bernie Gores has appeared online since at least August 2020. Back then, the same photo of the person pictured in the tweets was featured as Bernie Gores, a person missing in Lebanon after a fuel explosion in Beirut. That was a hoax, and so is this.

News organizations have sought the government’s help protecting journalists in Afghanistan.

These posts, though, are False.

This fact check was originally published by PolitiFact, which is part of the Poynter Institute. It is republished here with permission. See the sources for this fact check here and more of PolitiFact’s fact checks here.

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Ciara O'Rourke is a contributing writer for PolitiFact. Previously, Ciara covered local government and public safety for the Austin American-Statesman and fact-checked elected officials and…
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