How White Supremacists incited panic and fear using social media propaganda at the University of Missouri

This post documents – in detail – how white supremacists used social media to create genuine fear and hysteria at the University of Missouri in late 2015.

Summary

White supremacists, KKK and/or neo Nazi’s used social media propaganda to incite fear and panic by falsely asserting that the KKK was on the University of Missouri campus and acting violently (Assertion, Lie). This propaganda created fear among the students, who then passed along frightening hoax statements and photos as facts, creating more fear and panic.

This propaganda campaign was successful: the hoaxers made it look like the propaganda came from the students themselves, successfully created fear and panic, which led to a shutdown of the university.

CAUTION: This page contains imagery that most people consider objectionable.

During unrest at the University of Missouri, social media was filled with rumors and provocative images intended to incite emotion.

  • The story begins with anonymous threats made against black students at the campus. These threats, made on YikYak social media were very real (two students at other college campuses were arrested for making those threats).
  • White supremacists began circulating their own rumors on social media, purporting to be from University of Missouri students witnessing acts of hate and violence on campus. As we will see, these were provable hoaxes designed to incite panic and fear.
  • White supremacists circulated hoax posts on Twitter allegedly showing photos of the KKK on campus and saying violence was occurring “right now” or was eminent.
  • So many messages flooded social media, that the student body president passed along these rumors that the KKK had shown up on campus and added commentary that he was working with local police and other authorities (an “Appeal to Authority” which added authenticity to the report). Later, the student body president formally retracted his tweet.
  • But by then, students and others were sharing these hoax images of KKK members allegedly on campus.
  • These social media posts were often captioned as “happening right now” but in fact, the photos were taken at events, in other states, occurring years and months before the situation at the University of Missouri.
  • Days later, some were blaming students for the propaganda that actually came from white supremacists.
  • At this point, social media propaganda successfully generated mass panic and fear.

Continue reading for details never before presented.

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Leaving out details to make a story more dramatic

14517523_913408235470624_6271785127124202065_nTL;DR Summary

  • Milwaukee police “accidentally” shot a 13 year old girl at an elementary school after she became “combative”.’
  • By placing the word “accidentally” in quotes, followed by the word “combative”, this propaganda poster sets the viewer up to believe the police intentionally shot a 13 year old “combative” girl.
  • The poster leaves out that the officer’s gun was in the holster and that the MPD weapons do not have holster safeties. This information negates the attempted spin on the story. A little more information here.
  • There are valid questions as to how and why the police officer’s weapon discharged while in its holster. That should not have happened.
  • The purpose of this post is to illustrate how selective information – and leaving out key information – can spin and shape the emotional response to a social media propaganda poster. Keep in mind – propaganda posters are not created to inform you but to persuade you to adopt someone else’s agenda.
  • The above poster appears to have originated with Counter Current News, on Facebook. Counter Current News is an online, social media based for-profit publishing business that target’s conspiracy theory enthusiasts. Many such businesses target political enthusiasts; Occupy Democrats is an online, social media for-profit publishing business that targets left wing political enthusiasts. There are many examples of these for profit publishing businesses that pull at the emotions of their target audience.
  • These types of businesses design propaganda posters to emotionally rile up their target audience, who then share the posters online. To learn more about each poster, viewers are encouraged to click a link to the publisher’s web site, where the full story is accompanied by advertising. This type of social media based publishing has become popular and is aimed at ideological enthusiasts.

Social media after big events

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TL;DR Summary

  • In this poster, the “facts” do lie.
  • This poster was modified from 162 (or may be 163) to read “164”. Those numbers are false.
  • Snopes.com says, the original social media poster was a lie, based on using different definitions for “pre-Obama” versus “Obama” to inflate the latter’s count.

 

In the aftermath of a mass shooting in Burlington, Washington, I saw “fake” photos distributed on Twitter. Twitter was filled with accusations against Muslims. Few seemed interested in waiting for actual facts. Instead, spreading political ideology was the goal on social media. As 3 lay dead, and 2 others were critically injured (and later died) and as police conducted a manhunt for the shooter, there were a great many political posts advocating more gun control or more guns.

This poster works because of its use of numbers –  and it some how sounds believable. The first 4 numbers are basically correct. Like other propaganda posters, a sequence of true statements is then followed by an untrue statement. Lacking critical thinking, the final statement is then perceived as true.

In the immediate aftermath of a large event, most everything spread on social media is incomplete, exaggerated, subject to change, misreported, or is spun to promote someone’s agenda. Keep your Bull Shit detector set to maximum sensitivity.

Text for Search Engines

Facts Don’t Lie …

Reagan: 11 mass shootings

Bush Sr: 12 mass shootings

Clinton: 23 mass shootings

Obama: 164 mass shootings (or 162 or 63)

 

“Massive Rally AGAINST Islam in France”? No.

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TL; DR Summary

  • The assertion that this is a rally against Islam in France is false.
  • Social media passes along this photo and text description: “Massive Rally AGAINST Islam in France: Di you hear about this MASSIVE rally in France? You probably didn’t because it’s exactly what the mainstream media doesn’t want you to see. A far-right rally has been held in Paris with hundreds of young people taking to the streets…
  • The photo was stolen from a BBC news article about a rally standing up for the victims of terror attacks in the offices of the magazine Charlie Hebdo, in France. The rally was NOT a “massive rally against Islam in France”.
  • This technique, of writing an incorrect description for a photo of an event (sometimes a photo of an event having nothing to do with any of the description) is common in social media propaganda. Or simply stealing a photo of an event in the past and pretending it has something to do with current events – we busted an example of this just a week or so ago.

 

When media becomes propaganda, media consumers lose trust

Perhaps people are more aware of propaganda methods and prevalence than realized. Trust in mass media reaches an all time low.

Americans’ trust in the mass media has dropped sharply since last year to its lowest point since 1972. Republicans’ lack of faith in the media is chiefly behind this decline.

Source: Americans’ Trust in Mass Media Sinks to New Low

The trend over time is true for all political persuasions despite the Gallup comment in the last sentence. Democrats went from a peak of 70% to 51%, Independents from a peak of 55% to 30%, and Republicans from a peak of 52% to 14%.

The loss of trust – over time – crosses age boundaries. Among the 18-49 year old group, trust fell from a peak of 55% to 26%.

Media news reporting is apparently seen as increasingly biased and irrelevant. Faced with competition from Internet hosted content and social media outlets, this does not bid well for the long term sustainability of mass media news.

Social media “quotable quote” propagation

A topic we have covered before is the prevalence of “famous quotes” said to be by historical figures. Much of the time, there is either no record that the “famous quote” was said by the historical figure or there is proof that the quote came from someone else.

Yet seemingly everyone publishes “quotable quotes” on social media. Here is another example:

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Not surprisingly, this quote originated, in a slightly modified form, from a physicist in 1963 and has nothing to do with Abraham Lincoln. The spin that this came from Abraham Lincoln started in 2008.

Why do people post these quotes on social media? Generally, it seems to be a form of virtue signaling, which, depending on the subject of the quote, can be to let others know that you are witty, an intellectual, you support the statement and what not. The purpose for posting is, obviously, up to each user that posts such quotes and we can only guess as to why a particular person chose to publish a particular quote.

 

Do some people want to receive propaganda? YES

So it goes with propaganda. For propaganda to be effective, it requires submissive subjects. As Professor Nicholas O’Shaughnessy wrote, propaganda is a “co-production in which we are willing participants.”

Source: Why Does Propaganda Work? Some People Want It | Zero Hedge

The answer is an absolute yes! Millions of people voluntarily belong to Facebook groups whose sole purpose is the dissemination of propaganda.

Whether it be left or right leaning political groups, environmental and other activist groups, many people read their daily output as gospel (a word meaning, roughly, “good news” and later interpreted as “truth”).

Bottom line: Yes, millions and millions of people voluntarily subscribe to propaganda dissemination!

Was Omaha Deaf Student Bullied and his backpack thrown in a toilet?

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TL; DR Summary

  • The backpack belonging to a deaf student was thrown into a toilet.
  • When we see this headline, we immediately envision students harassing a deaf student, stealing his backpack and throwing it in a toilet.
  • This story has been widely shared on Facebook as an illustration of bullying behavior; indeed, bullying behavior against a deaf student.
  • Except that is not what happened. Instead, this is a beautifully crafted story whose emotional bait successfully hooks all of us, so we like and share.
  • Emotional bait is a highly effective means of propaganda dissemination. In this example, suggesting a deaf student was bullied serves the promotional interests of those wishing to convey a message about school bullying (even though such bullying did not occur here). When you see news – or FB posts – note how many use emotional contexts to “bait” you in to reading and sharing, even though the story may not be important in a larger context.

The back pack had been inadvertently left on a lunch room table. Two students picked up and promptly did something stupid – they tossed it in a toilet. However, the students did not know the backpack belonged to a deaf student.

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Did attack dogs bite a little girl in the face at pipeline protest in North Dakota?

girl-attackedTL;DR Summary

  • Graphic photo of a little girl with bite wounds to her face was presented online as proof that attack dogs were unleashed on Native American and other protesters at an oil pipeline construction site in North Dakota.
  • This photo was then passed on social media, including online comments at “news” sites, as proof of the vicious attacks by dogs.
  • The photo, however, first appeared in a June 26, 2012 NY Daily News report about a dog attack that occurred in Texas. This photo has nothing to do with the events in North Dakota.
  • This is a classic example of social media propaganda used to incite riots based on false information. Social media almost instantly descends into mob mentality, lynching everyone in their path, including the innocent.

Read on to discover the fascinating history behind this false social media meme and how this became an established “fact”, in spite of it being an outright lie.

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Did a Court ban Native Americans from protesting on their own land?

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TL;DR Summary

  • Native Americans and others are protesting oil pipeline construction in North Dakota.
  • This “news” item says the “U.S. government bans Native American Tribe from Protesting on their own land – send in police to remove protesters”.
  • The graphic image looks scary. Except that is not a Native American and this photo is from 2012, in Rio de Janiero, Brazil and has nothing to do with the events occurring in North Dakota. That is a first clue that this may be a very poorly produced news report or possibly straight up propaganda.

Source: http://countercurrentnews.com/2016/08/u-s-government-bans-native-american-tribe-protesting-land-send-police-remove-protesters/ (Update: Countercurrentnews has been identified as a for profit fake news web site).

For background on the story, please read ABC News, the Bismarck Tribune and the East Iowa Gazette.

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