A 2019 survey found that Germans considered then-U.S. President Donald Trump to be the world leader that was the biggest threat to world peace. Fox News broadcast a graphic showing the results of the survey using Trump's photo. Different versions of the image were fabricated using meme generators, including one showing James.
Claims have spread online that a German survey featured in a broadcast on Fox News found NBA superstar LeBron James to be the "greatest threat to world peace."
We first found the image on Twitter in January 2020. It claimed that 41% of respondents said James was the "world leader" that was the greatest threat to world peace, followed by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Iranian leader Ali Khamenei, Russian leader Vladimir Putin, and Chinese leader Xi Jinping. The source was cited as YouGov, a research analytics company.
— Jabroni (@Jabr0ni_is_here) January 9, 2020
The claim has continued to spread constantly on social media platforms. It was posted on TikTok in 2021, for example, and on Reddit in 2022. It most recently appeared on Twitter and TikTok in March 2023.
wtf lebron doin on here ???????? pic.twitter.com/qA6UnvL4jJ
— $????????????☃️ (@slvppy) March 28, 2023
There is a real survey about world leaders seen by the German people as the greatest threat to world peace. It was broadcast on the Fox News program "Fox & Friends First" and later posted on Twitter in December 2019.
But James wasn't part of that list. Instead, it was then-U.S. President Donald Trump who took the top spot in the survey, as well as in the graphic that was broadcast by Fox News.
We found more than one version of a meme generator that allow users to make variations based on the original graphic by inserting a different image to replace that of Trump.
Looking at the chyron at the bottom of the image as well as the lighting effects helped us tell them apart. One version discussed the Middle East and had overexposed lighting, which was the version that spread on social media over the years claiming that James was the greatest threat to world peace. Another version discussed officials in Kazakhstan and had more natural lighting.
Reuters previously fact-checked a version of the meme that was used to falsely claim that white women were the greatest threat to world peace. We found other versions of the meme online on several different social media platforms.
One TikTok post from October 2022 that used the Kazakhstan version of the meme generator showed the character Skyler White from the TV show "Breaking Bad" as the greatest threat to world peace.
Another TikTok post we found on the platform from December 2022 that also used the Kazakhstan version showed Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada as the greatest threat to world peace.
On Facebook, a version of the meme showed Arsenal club manager Mikel Arteta as the greatest threat to world peace. The earliest post of the meme we could find was in April 2021, and used the Kazakhstan version.