Hate crimes and fake news on social media

By: Diego Loredo

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One example of hate crime being reported on social media (courtesy of BBC)

There has been a surge of hate crimes reported on social media since Trump’s election. From buildings being vandalized and branded with a swastika to minorities being abused by Trump supporters and vice-versa. What makes these hate crimes different are that they’ve all been seen on social media.

According to CNN, there have been more than 700 cases of “hateful harassment or intimidation” in the U.S. since Election Day. Most of these hate crimes, if not all, have been posted on social media.

According to US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, reported hate crimes have spiked 6%. One notable story, from the New Statesman, is about Kiaira Manuel who saw a bold sign reading “COLORS ONLY” over one of the water fountains at her high school. When posted on social media, many were calling her a liar (as well as trolling her).

Other notable hate crimes include (courtesy of BBC):

  • Swastikas being painted onto buildings in Philadelphia.
  • A building being painted with “MAKE AMERICA WHITE AGAIN” in Wellsville, New York.
  • A girl in California being attacked for expressing her support for Trump.
  • A white man involved in a traffic accident being beaten and robbed by a group of black individuals.

A lot of these crimes have been reported to the police and more of them have been posted on social media. Social media has become a hub for news and is where most people get them now. However, with the problem of fake news on Facebook being revealed, many are questioning whether these hate crimes even happened.

There’s no doubt that hate crimes have been occurring in the U.S. But there are also several which are just hoaxes, spreading the speculation even more of fake news on social media.

So what can we do to prevent this perception of fake news on social media? Well, simply put, just Google it. The story from the New Statesman goes over how to deal with a story that may or may not be true. The author of the article gives advice like reading from different sources, saying “I haven’t verified this yet” when posting, etc. With all of the fake news going around, it’s important to make sure that we can properly decipher which news are real and which are fake.

Sources:

http://www.newstatesman.com/science-tech/2016/11/hate-crimes-social-media-and-rise-hoax-hoax

http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/10/us/post-election-hate-crimes-and-fears-trnd/

https://www.justice.gov/opa/video/attorney-general-lynch-s-video-statement-hate-crimes-america

http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-37945386

http://www.wsj.com/articles/mark-zuckerberg-explains-how-facebook-plans-to-fight-fake-news-1479542069

Published by

UNT Eagle Strategies

Class members of the social media class in the Mayborn School of Journalism