NEWS

Beyonce and Jay Z not buying rights to Confederate flag, despite reports

07/08/2015 08:16 EDT | Updated 07/08/2016 05:59 EDT
One of America's richest and most influential couples using their power for good sounds like a refreshing concept. 

That may be why news outlets were so easily fooled on Wednesday by a fake report stating that Jay Z and Beyonce are trying to buy the rights to the Confederate flag so that racist people can't use it anymore.

"Mr. and Mrs. Carter wants [sic] to assist in the abolishment of the flag by purchasing the resell rights to the Confederate flag," Newswatch33 quoted Ralph Hammerstein, a supposed attorney representing Shawn "Jay Z" Carter and Beyonce Knowles-Carter. "If my clients are successful, purchasing the rights would mean anyone who wants to produce merchandise using the Confederate flag would have to get permission from Mr. and Mrs. Carter."

Purchasing the rights would run the pair about $280 million US, according to Newswatch33. 

The Confederate flag as a symbol of racist ideology has come under heavy fire since the deadly attack last month on a South Carolina church. Dylann Roof, 21, who faces nine counts of murder in the shooting, posed with a gun and the Confederate flag in photos that surfaced online after the murders.  

The idea that beloved America icons Bey and Jay Z could reclaim it and make the country a better place was a story too good to resist for some.

But, turns out it was too good to be true, too. 

According to Gawker's Antiviral, lawyer Ralph Hammerstein is fictional. 

But, even if Jay Z and Beyonce wanted to, it is impossible to buy the rights to the Confederate flag — or any flag for that matter — according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. It is public domain. 

Newswatch33.com claims to "provide the latest shocking global news headlines," but does so satirically.

That becomes abundantly clear once you dig a little deeper and find ridiculous headlines such as "Charleston Church Shooter Receives $4 Million in Donations" or "Ben Affleck Divorces Jennifer Garner In Light of Same-Sex Marriage Legalization."

Or the even more absurd, "ISIS Use Shark Attacks As Part Of Terrorism."

Fake Beyonce, Jay Z story shared on Facebook 

Many of the Newswatch33 stories have a thread of truth to them, however, and outlets like The Source, Complex, Metro and fashion magazine Dazed got pulled into the fray and wrote the story as fact. 

Once Reddit caught wind of it, the story was quickly debunked, but not before it racked up thousands of Facebook shares.

Metro in the U.K. skirted an admission that they'd been had by subtly issuing a new story with the headline "Nope! Jay Z and Beyonce aren't trying to buy the rights to the Confederate flag." 

Some Reddit users had fun with the misinformation.

"Why not buy the star spangled banner and rhyme it up while they are at it? Maybe make it feature Rihanna?" asked JayMeaux88. 

"I'd...I'd listen to that," was the first response. 

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