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VERIFY: How to debunk prophetic videos and posts

An easily debunkable TikTok video is a good case study for how to spot similar posts.
Credit: AP
FILE - This Feb. 25, 2020, file photo, shows the icon for TikTok in New York. (AP Photo/File)

A video on TikTok got attention for its prophetic message. Originally posted by an account called “movethemarket” and since deleted and reposted by other accounts using the #movethemarket hashtag, the video referenced the recent GameStop stock surge and said the next company to get such treatment would be revealed “Monday, February 6th.”

The video, of course, could be debunked pretty easily. February 6 was a Saturday, not a Monday, and ultimately no new stock has gone viral to GameStop levels since then. But the video serves as a great example of what to look for when trying to find fake posts with prophetic claims.


How can I tell if a prophetic post is fake?


While you can’t necessarily say for sure what will or won’t happen in the future, there are some indicators that a post isn’t credible. Watch out for vague claims, provable inaccuracies, contradictions to common sense, and anonymous identities.

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A key piece to any prophetic conspiracy post is a vague central claim. While this video attached the claim to a specific day, albeit an incorrect one, and even gave a time by saying it would be at market opening, the claim itself doesn’t say much. They say they’ll “release the name of the next big company.” 

What does “big” mean in this context? Big as in GameStop’s case, with stocks exploding far beyond their original value? Big in the traditional sense, like Amazon or Apple? Or is the speaker referring to the next “big money” target given that a large part of the GameStop narrative was that it was supposed to take down specific hedge funds in a revolt against Wall Street as a whole?

That’s never made clear because there wasn’t a follow-up video on February 6 nor on Monday, February 8. As stated multiple times before, this claim instantly loses credibility because the date named doesn’t even line up with the day of the week named.

But there are other, less-definitive inconsistencies within the video that should give you pause. For example, why would this video come from Anonymous? The group is well-known for hacktivism and cyber attacks, and the video doesn’t make any suggestion that such tactics will be used to make this next company big.

However, since Anonymous did support the Occupy Wall Street movement a decade ago, and is anonymous as the name implies, they make for a convincing group to use for such a post. They have a track record of being anti-Wall Street and members of the group always hide their faces and voices anyway, giving the person making the video an accepted excuse to do so themselves.

Anonymity shields a person from having their credibility scrutinized. There is no way to know if this person has authority on this topic or not because we don’t know who the person is. So your only choices are to take them at their word for who they are or cast doubt on their identity and assume it’s a hoax.

The video was likely posted to attract attention and bring in followers to the account that originally posted it by making it appear as if it would be a source for future big market movements. The “movethemarket” TikTok account has nearly 180,000 followers despite having no videos published after deleting the last one.

While this specific video hasn’t really caused any harm, other hoaxes making prophetic claims have been and will continue to be more malicious. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep in mind how to spot them. 

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