Last week a racist joke originating from a shitty corner of the internet got quickly out of hand, and before long French politicians and Greek news channels—among others—were erroneously reporting that an old photograph of legendary game designer Hideo Kojima was actually a photo of Tetsuya Yamagami, the 41 year-old who assassinated former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday.
I say “joke”, but that’s really doing a disservice to things that are even remotely funny, since there was absolutely nothing linking the two men, in terms of appearance or otherwise, other than the fact they were both Japanese.
If you’re just joining this, here’s Zack reporting the news on Friday:
Shortly after today’s assassination, some shitty people in a dank corner of the internet joked that Abe’s suspected killer looked like Kojima. Eventually, this reached Twitter, where far-right French politician Damien Rieu—perhaps not understanding that it was a joke—retweeted images of Kojima with a comment that translates to “The extreme left kills,” helping spread it more. While Rieu did eventually delete the tweets, it seems the damage was already done and might have helped mislead at least one news station in Greece that covered the assassination.
Obviously that’s incredibly dangerous reporting, especially since it concerns someone already in the public eye, so Kojima Productions issued a statement on Friday evening saying:
Kojima Productions strongly condemns the spread of fake news and rumors that convey false information. We do not tolerate such libel and will consider taking legal action in some cases.
Far-right French politician Damien Rieu has since deleted his tweets, and the Greek news channel ANT TV1 has also removed its video featuring the photograph. It’s unknown at time of posting however just how far this misinformation has spread, and how many people saw the original reports from both and have yet to see any of the corrections made.