Fact Check: The Independent Did NOT Publish Article Purporting Elon Musk's Father Covered Up Cat Abuse Claims

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: The Independent Did NOT Publish Article Purporting Elon Musk's Father Covered Up Cat Abuse Claims Fabricated

Did The Independent, an online British daily newspaper, publish an article by reporter Graeme Massie with the headline, "Elon Musk's father paid college $125,000 to ignore animal abuse claims"? No, that's not true: The Independent never published an article that said this. The screenshots posted on social media that make this claim are fabricated.

A tweet with two fake screenshots about Musk was published on Twitter (archived here) on November 7, 2022. It is captioned:

elon musk fucked a cat to death in college and got his daddy to cover it up using his emerald money.

This is how the tweet appeared at the time of this fact check's writing:


(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Tue Nov 08 15:45:41 2022 UTC)

Lead Stories searched both the independent.co.uk website and Google (archived here) for the specific partial phrase in the headline "Elon Musk's father paid college $125,000." No search results were returned.


(Source: Lead Stories composite image of search result screenshots taken on Tue Nov 08 15:49:39 2022 UTC)

Lead Stories contacted for comment The Independent reporter, Graeme Massie, whose byline appears in the fabricated screenshot, and will update this fact check as necessary if a response is received.

Additional tweets posted on November 7, 2022, by the same account (archived here and here) feature other fabricated headlines about Elon Musk. Neither of these headlines has appeared in a real publication or produced results in focused searches. They are fabricated screenshots.

One such screenshot, purportedly from The Observer, another British newspaper, says:

Elon Musk faces lawsuit after secretly installing hidden cameras in bathroom stalls at Twitter HQ

Another, with "Elon Musk" placed in the same position as the title for The Observer in the first screenshot, features the byline Emma Raldmine (a twist on Emerald Mine). The byline and "Elon Musk" title can be seen only when the fabricated screenshot is viewed fullscreen.

This screenshot's headline reads

Jeffrey Epstein 'quite cool in real life, and tragically misunderstood' claims Elon Musk


(Source: Lead Stories composite image of Twitter screenshots taken on Tue Nov 08 16:43:12 2022 UTC)

Searches for these headlines on The Observer and Google resulted in no matches that validate the claims made on Twitter.

Additional Lead Stories fact checks related to Elon Musk can be found here.

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  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


Read more about or contact Sarah Thompson

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