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.
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.
Update July 2018: We now now that some of these social media posts may have come from Internet trolls in other countries. Some were also linked to known white supremacists.
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.
- 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)
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.
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:
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.
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!
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.
- 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.
- 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.