Does a photo show Senator Elizabeth Warren at a nude pagan ritual? No, that's not true: The grainy black-and-white image of eight naked adults holding hands and dancing does not include the U.S. senator from Massachusetts. The claim was stolen from a now-deleted 2017 satirical article published by a website that trolls conservatives with the aim of fooling them into sharing fake claims about liberals.
The claim appeared in a tweet (archived here) posted by actor James Woods on August 7, 2020, under the title "Here's a feather in her cap...". It opened:
Photo of Elizabeth Warren at a nude pagan ritual. A roommate of Elizabeth's from college released this photo of her and a bunch of her "pagan friends" dancing around a tribute to the gods of wind and fire.
This is what the post looked like on Twitter at the time of writing:
(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Sat Aug 8 18:32:07 2020 UTC)
Woods has a history of questionable tweets, which have sometimes gotten him temporarily suspended from Twitter.
Christopher Blair, self-professed liberal troll and creator of the legendary network the "America's Last Line of Defense" network of satire websites, laughed when informed by Lead Stories that Woods took his bait:
Oh yes, that's mine for sure. Someone else added the text from the original story. They left out the Tom Hanks/Dan Aykroyd version of Dragnet references. It was just a random image I came across. I'm not surprised a turd like James Woods fell for it.
Blair said he's used the same image in other satirical stories naming Tom Hanks and Dan Aykroyd.
He runs several websites and Facebook pages with visible satire disclaimers everywhere. They mostly publish made-up stories with headlines specifically created to trigger Republicans, conservatives and evangelical Christians into angrily sharing or commenting on the story on Facebook without actually reading the full article, exposing them to mockery and ridicule by fans of the sites and pages.
Every site in the network has an about page that reads (in part):
Before you complain and decide satire is synonymous with "comedy":
The use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.
Everything on this website is fiction. It is not a lie and it is not fake news because it is not real. If you believe that it is real, you should have your head examined. Any similarities between this site's pure fantasy and actual people, places, and events are purely coincidental and all images should be considered altered and satirical. See above if you're still having an issue with that satire thing.
Articles from Blair's sites frequently get copied by "real" fake news sites who omit the satire disclaimer and other hints the stories are fake. One of the most persistent networks of such sites is run by a man from Pakistan named Kashif Shahzad Khokhar (aka "DashiKashi") who has spammed hundreds of such stolen stories into conservative and right-wing Facebook pages in order to profit from the ad revenue.
When fact checkers point this out to the people liking and sharing these copycat stories some of them get mad at the fact checkers instead of directing their anger at the foreign spammers or the liberal satire writers. Others send a polite "thank you" note, which is much appreciated.