Analyzing a social media claim

While winding down from a long day of reporting, I encountered a tweet on Twitter that I found dangerously harmful and potentially hurtful to the person the tweet was toward. The tweet read, “Fallon Fox, a transgender MMA fighter, has now broken two female opponents’ skulls. A man beating on women and named “Bravest athlete” in 2020. The hate for women is real.”

This tweet could be accurate, but if not, it would serve as a massive boulder of misinformation that will tumble into tension across multiple different communities. But it is not precise because I watch MMA and know the woman that is pictured on the right with the crimson mask, Kay Hansen, has never fought against Fox in her career due to contracts and differing companies. 

A few other red flags could immediately be taken with suspicion, starting with the fact that it says Fox won the “bravest athlete” in the world award but never mentioned who she received it from. Not to mention, none of the fighters who suffered the fractured skulls were mentioned in the tweet leading you to ask yourself why a piece of information that important would be left out if it’s accurate. 

 Additionally, at face value, the tweet implies that not only is a legally born man being allowed to compete against women in a mixed martial arts setting, but has broken two women’s skulls and was recently named the bravest athlete in 2020. Obviously, the first thing to check was the “Bravest Athlete” nod, which after scouring the internet, resulted in no findings of the bravest athlete award, but rather the fact that it’s just the final chapter of her book Fair Play: How LGBT Athletes Are Claiming Their Rightful Place In Sports. The final chapter is titled “Fallon Fox Is The Bravest Athlete In History.”

https://www.outsports.com/2020/1/14/21062012/fallon-fox-trans-athlete-mma-courage-brave

Next was finding information about Fox’s past opponents to confirm whether Fox had broken any of their skulls. I started by searching Kay Hansen, and once I got onto her page, I saw that she had already directly addressed the photo saying it wasn’t her, and pleaded for folks to stop spreading misinformation. 

Afterwards I followed it up by finding Fox’s win-loss MMA record on Tapology.com. Then I Google searched each of Fox’s opponents along with the keyword “broken skull” to see if I could find any information on Fox cracking any of their skulls. 

Tapology.com is one of the most reliable MMA sites, that contains information that includes news, fighter profiles, win-loss records, and mixed martial arts history.

There I was able to locate an opponent named Tamekka Brents, who after competing against Fox in 2013, suffered a concussion, broken orbital bone and received seven stitches after the bout. The fight lasted only two minutes as Fox defeat Brents in the first round via TKO.

This was the only instance of Fox cracking an opponent’s skull, and the backlash resulted in a retirement decision. Since there was a history of Fox injuring an opponent, it made for a perfect opportunity to deceive people. Sometimes misinformation can pass as logical, so it is our job, while maneuvering in the ever dominating internet world to do everything in our power to be sure the information we spread is fact.


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