Times-Union readers want to know:
Is it true that a Seattle Seahawks player burned the American flag in the locker room? I saw a photo on the internet.
Another day, another story, another fake.
Many false stories on Facebook claiming that Seattle Seahawks players burned the American flag surfaced after President Donald Trump called on National Football League team owners to fire players who don’t stand during the national anthem.
FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to help identify and label viral fake news stories flagged by readers on the social media network. One story that Facebook users flagged as potentially false claims that Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett “was captured on camera burning an American flag” while the team remained in the locker room for the national anthem before a game against the Tennessee Titans on Sept. 24, FactCheck.org reported. A headline on another post says that another Seahawk, “NFL Player Richard Sherman, Who Burned U.S Flag, Has Been Thrown Out From The Team.”
A photo was altered to show Bennett holding a burning U.S. flag as his teammates, including Sherman, looked on.
As for Sherman, he has not been released from the team. In fact, FactCheck.org notes, he was recently featured in an Oct. 13 post on the Seahawks’ website about him visiting a young fan in the hospital. And he played last Sunday in the Seattle Seahawks 41-38 win over the Houston Texans.
The fake image of Bennett was first shared on the Facebook page of Vets for Trump in late September. The post, which the group took down, was up for two days and was shared 10,000 times, Vladimir Lemets, the social media director for Vets for Trump, told FactCheck.org.
The group later shared a link to an article admitting that the picture wasn’t real, but arguing that it “was an accurate metaphor for what the NFL is doing to America.”
FactCheck.org reports that its readers still ask about the fake photo.
The Seahawks posted the original, unedited picture on the team’s official Twitter account on Jan. 3, 2016. It shows Sherman (No. 25) and other Seattle players and coaches watching as Bennett does “a now-traditional post-victory dance” after a win against the Arizona Cardinals. There was no flag involved in the celebration.
Bennett is among the players who have silently demonstrated at games during the national anthem. He said at the start of the season that he would sit for the anthem in order to raise awareness about racism and intolerance.
Sherman, on the other hand, has said that he doesn’t agree with Bennett and other players who don’t stand during the anthem, FactCheck.org reported. Sherman said their message is important, but it is getting lost in the controversy over the anthem.
Carole Fader: (904) 359-4635