Social media is known for being infested with malicious weirdos who spread fake news about celebrity deaths, relationship drama and the like, but this one takes the cake. Pro Basketball Hall of Famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson was forced to hit Twitter on Monday to clear up a rumor after a picture circulated with a caption alleging that he had recently donated blood.
Normally, no one would care, but of course, this is Magic Johnson, who is famously has lived for the past three decades with the human immuno-deficiency virus, otherwise known as HIV. The virus is transmissible through bodily fluids including blood, as well as through other means including sexual transmission or through sharing hypodermic needles commonly used in some types of drug use. Johnson announced that he contracted the virus back in 1991.
Johnson took to his verified account on Twitter this morning to make clear that the rumor was unequivocally false.
It’s unclear where, exactly, the rumor started. In recent days. a picture circulated on social media platforms showing Johnson having blood drawn by a doctor, which the Associated Press reports is actually a decade old, a screenshot taken from a 2012 PBS documentary on the HIV epidemic in the Black community. The caption reads: “Earlier today, NBA legend Magic Johnson donated some of his blood to the Red Cross to help underprivileged communities help fight COVID-19.”
The Red Cross, though, doesn’t accept blood donations from people who are HIV-positive.
From the Associated Press
The account that posted the photo states in its bio that it is a satire page. While some users shared the image indicating it was a joke, many reposted the image questioning whether the caption was true or expressing concern.
One post resharing the image added the caption “HE DONATED WHAT?!?,” receiving an additional 38,000 retweets and 233,000 likes in addition to comments that indicated many users believed the caption was correct.
The image also spread widely online last year with similar miscaptions.