Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari hosts Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at his presidential villa in Abuja, on September 2, 2016 (Photo: Sunday AGHAEZE/ AFP)

Fabricated tweet falsely claims Facebook founder had dig at Nigerian leader’s health

Copyright AFP 2017-2021. All rights reserved.

A screenshot shared hundreds of times on Facebook claims to show a tweet from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg making derogatory comments about the health of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. In reality, the tweet was fabricated and Zuckerberg does not have a verified or active Twitter account.

“The Nigerian president needs medical checkup he maybe suffering from the inability to think properly (sic),” reads the screenshot of the purported tweet, which was shared on Facebook here, here and here.

A screenshot showing the fabricated tweet, taken on June 7, 2021

Twitter ban in Nigeria

The tweet appeared after Nigeria’s government announced the indefinite suspension of Twitter on June 4, 2021. The move came in response to the platform deleting one of the president’s tweets for violating Twitter policy, as AFP reported here.

The ban sparked international criticism. 

Facebook has since also removed the same comments by Buhari but the Nigerian government has yet to take action against the social media network.

Zuckerberg and Twitter

The tweet was fabricated and Zuckerberg has no verified Twitter account. Zuckerberg joined the platform in 2009 under the handle @finkd, not “@Markzuckerberg” as seen in the hoax screenshot. Since creating his account, the Facebook founder has tweeted only 19 times, with his last tweet dating back to January 2012.

A screenshot taken on June 9, 2021, showing Zuckerberg's Twitter account and last tweet

Though unverified, the account is followed by Google CEO Sundar Pichai, YouTube, Microsoft and Zuckerberg’s Facebook.

@finkd is followed by Google CEO, YouTube, Microsoft and Facebook itself

In 2009, Zuckerberg was reported to have maintained a private account with the handle @zuck which sent no public tweet until it was deactivated. He rejoined Twitter in March 2009 with his current handle, although the account is dormant today. Business Insider reported that Zuckerberg followed only one person in 2019. 

Zuckerberg used these accounts around the time he was looking to buy Twitter but the deal failed.

None of Zuckerberg’s 19 tweets mention Nigeria or Buhari, who was elected in 2015, three years after Zuckerberg last tweeted. There is also no evidence that Zuckerberg has tweeted at all in 2021.

According to the fabricated screenshot, the tweet has been retweeted 2.6 million times and liked 3.7 million times. If this was the case, it would be one of the most shared tweets in Twitter history. 

Wikipedia keeps a list of the most retweeted tweets in history and according to the list, the tweet does not exist.

Tweets are easily fabricated

It is difficult to prove a tweet once existed after it has been deleted unless it was archived on websites like Wayback Machine

The New York Times created a database of all tweets posted by former US president Donald Trump, while Factbase saved all his deleted tweets here

Tweets can also easily be doctored. For example, TweetGen is a website that can be used to generate tweets of choice with pictures and timestamps to make them look real, as shown in the example below:

An image of a fabricated tweet made by AFP Fact Check

Facebook is yet to reply to AFP Fact Check’s request for comment.