Black Panther has been released in theaters this week. Sadly, trolls on social media have used the racial divide in our country to spread lies about white people being assaulting while watching the film. A few Twitter accounts have shared images of white people being assaulted and captions like:
“i went to see #BlackPanther with my gf and a black teenager shouted ‘u at the wrong theater’ and smashed a bottle on her face.”
‘This movie ain’t for you white b****’ and then attacked her. Security escorted us to the parking lot and we left. We just wanted to see a movie.”
A simple image search on Google shows the images of the beat up women were from other events long before the movie came out.
Here is another one with some blood on a napkin also talking about how they were attacked by “black youths” during the film. The image was from 2009.
All these Tweets were shared hundreds of times. Sigh.
We know that most people share stories on social media without even reading them. You can say something misleading or even completely lie and people will still share it around if it grabs their attention. If you tap into a particular ideology, like racial prejudice, then misinformation can spread like wildfire. I’m confident that some people who shared these particular Tweets were racists and didn’t bother to fact check the story. It was “evidence” that confirmed their bias against black people and that was good enough for them.
Beyond misleading headlines, I also think headlines like “LIBERAL DESTROYS CONSERVATIVE ARGUMENT” are not helpful either. They are sensationalist and I would consider them clickbait as well. And again, I’m probably guilty of doing similar things in my early blogging days. By writing such titles, we encourage thoughtless tribalism. Yes, it can get us more clicks, but is a few extra dollars really worth generating greater political polarization?