Fake posts allege media bias in Bondi massacre

What was Claimed

A media organisation changed its description of the Bondi attacker from a Jihadi terrorist to a mentally ill man after learning he was not Muslim.

Our Verdict

False. The social media posts which supposedly feature the two descriptions are fake.

Social media posts allegedly from a major news organisation following the Bondi Westfield massacre in Sydney have gone viral.

But the posts are fake.

It is being claimed Sky News UK reported the attacker was a “Radical Islamic Jihadi Muslim Terrorist” before confirming his identity.

Once it was established the man was not Muslim, social media users claim, Sky News edited their post to call him a “Mentally Ill Man” who had “Accidentally” caused “Multiple Fatalities”.

A screenshot of one of the Facebook posts.
The fake screenshot is stoking fury on social media.

“Once again mainstream western media, have shown their bias and hypocrisy towards #Muslims and #islam,” one user posted alongside the screenshots (archived here).

“Media drones on endlessly about antisemitism, while deliberately flooding the airwaves with Islamophobia,” another said (archived here).

“The ‘suspected Islamic terrorist’ to young white mentally ill man’ pipeline has been a trope for 20 years,” this user said (archived here).

Screenshots of the fake Sky News UK social media posts were shared widely, examples here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

However, there is no record of either message being posted by the actual Sky News (UK) account.

The fake posts in the screenshots do not match the style of regular Sky News content.

Notably, every word in the fake posts is capitalised unlike the words in the UK outlet's regular posts, examples here and here.

A Sky News UK spokesperson told AAP FactCheck that the posts were fake.

Sky News head of digital output Nick Sutton replied to a claim on X by posting a spreadsheet of all X posts his company sent about the attack on Saturday.

“I'm not sure where you got these screenshots from,” he wrote. 

“But they are not genuine Sky News tweets about the Sydney attack. These are the tweets we sent yesterday.”

A Sky News microphone (file image)
Sky News says the posts are fake.

AAP FactCheck has already debunked false claims that the massacre was committed by either a Jewish or an Islamic extremist and that the massacre was a false flag operation.

NSW Police have said the attacker, 40-year-old Queenslander Joel Cauchi, suffered from mental illness, and his attack wasn't terrorism-related or linked to any particular ideology.

Cauchi killed six people, with several others in hospital at the time of the writing.

He was shot dead by a police officer at the shopping centre.

The Verdict

The claim a media organisation changed their description of the Bondi attacker from a Jihadi terrorist to a mentally ill man after learning he was not Muslim is false.

The social media posts which supposedly show the change of description are fake.

False – The claim is inaccurate.

AAP FactCheck is an accredited member of the International Fact-Checking Network. To keep up with our latest fact checks, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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