Satirical posts share fake 'anti-bug bigotry' tweet from the World Economic Forum

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A purported tweet from the World Economic Forum (WEF) that questions whether adopting an insect-based diet is "racist" has been shared repeatedly by social media users. Comments on the posts indicated some users were misled to believe the tweet was genuine. However, a WEF spokesperson told AFP that it did not publish the tweet, and a keyword search of the organisation's tweets found no record of it. The purported tweet has circulated in posts that share parody content since 2021.

"The World Economic Forum says not eating bugs is racist..Whats your thoughts," reads a claim shared here on Facebook on August 26, 2022.

The claim was shared alongside a screenshot of a purported tweet from the WEF, a Geneva-based international lobbying organisation.

It reads: "When being anti-bug is bigotry: billions of people across the world eat insects as part of their daily diet. We ask: is it racist to not want to transition to a bug-based diet?".

A screenshot of the misleading Facebook post, taken on September 7, 2022.

The link included in the purported WEF tweet also does not lead to any active webpage, nor does an archive of the page here.  

The top image was taken by a Los Angeles Times photographer for this 2013 report about cockroach farms in China.

The same screenshot with similar claims has been shared on Facebook here and here.

Comments from some social media users suggested that they were misled by the claim.

"Wow, I must be racist then!" one user wrote. 

Another comment reads: "There they go again, the first and only explanation is 'Racism' when it could simply be they are vegetarian, many people prefer white meat over red meat, is that 'Racism', so in this future 'new normal' will we be accused of 'specism' (sic) if we prefer grasshopper over ants?"

However, in response to the misleading posts, a WEF spokesperson told AFP on September 6 that it "never published this tweet".

A keyword search of the text in the post did not reveal any matching tweets from WEF's official Twitter account.

As of September 8, AFP found no official reports or statements that the organisation published a tweet with the exact text shown in the misleading posts, however, it tweeted about bug-based alternatives to meat in 2017 and 2019

'Parody' tweet

A separate Twitter keyword search revealed an account posting multiple photos of purported WEF tweets, one of which has been debunked by AFP.

The author of the tweets labelled them as "parody" in response to other users.

AFP previously debunked a claim in March 2022 about the WEF tweeting to question whether the age of consent "should be lowered to 13 or less".