Things That Matter

ICE Is Going After A Twitter User For Spreading ‘Fake News’ But The Story Might Actually Be Real

As much as anything else, resistance against the increased pressure that ICE is putting on migrant communities is a matter of access to information. From shady facilities to lack of any details on the whereabouts of some detainees or the actual processes through which people are located, caught and processed, there is certainly a lack of clear information or even transparency on how the agency operates. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)  recently pointed fingers at a Twitter user who made a claim that might sound over the top, but that is actually sort of plausible in this day an age. 

ICE accused a Twitter user of falsely accusing an agent of posing as a homeless woman to track down a family.

Credit: San Francisco Chronicle

A Twitter user (whom we are not going to identify here, because misinformation or not this can put them at risk of harassment) claimed that an ICE agent pretended to be a homeless person in order to identify and follow a family of undocumented migrants. The tweet was shared by the agency. It read: “An ICE agent posing as a homeless women (sic) tried to access our shelter last night to look for a family, disregarding the fact that we are considered a Sensitive Location. Not only are we are religious organization, the shelter is located in a church.”

If this was true, it would shed light on a totalitarian-like operation that would be highly unethical. If this was indeed the case, the agency would have also violated the unspoken rule of religious buildings being safe places for undocumented migrants. 

It might have been a dubious claim but the crazy thing is that it might very well have been true!

The agency was quick to rebut the claims, perhaps aware of the severity of the claims and the precarious PR situation that it would put it in. They stated: “The allegations that ICE entered the Redmond United Methodist church this weekend, or dressed as a homeless woman to enter a homeless shelter located within the church, are false and do nothing but promote fearmongering.”

We can see here that the reputation that ICE has garnered is in so much trouble that even claims like these, which would have been outlandish a few years ago, are today totally believable and force the agency to discredit them. One of ICE’s strategies has been to promote the idea that their work is a matter of public safety, highlighting cases of detainees with criminal records. This paints an alarmist picture that can lead to dangerous generalizations.

Misinformation damages any democratic society, and social media platforms might not be doing enough to ponerse a la altura de los tiempos.

Credit: FactCheck.org

It doesn’t matter where it comes from, any type of misinformation damages democracy, as citizens do not have the right tools to make informed and conscious decisions when it comes to electing public officials. Social media platforms have been recently under fire for their propensity to be used to spread false information and to stir public opinion by creating information bubbles.

This means that if you receive news and political commentary primarily from your social media feeds, you are likely to receive a very similar range of news and opinions. If you insert an alarmist or misleading news story then the bubble’s general worldview is only validated. ICE has the power and the channels to discredit information they deem misleading, but that is not always the case. 

Real or not, the story got some pretty serious discussions going on Twitter.

One of the most vulnerable points ICE has when it comes to public opinion is the ruthlessness in which they seem to carry out their duties, as they seem to be intentionally punitive. They have been compared to the Gestapo on social media, and some users have highlighted the cruelty of their methods. Whether ICE agents posed as people in need to track down a family of undocumented migrants is ultimately not the point: the point is that it is not beyond the realm of reason to believe that was the case. 

And in the public’s mind digital media monopolies are also to blame

How much do we share online that could reveal key demographics including migratory status? ICE has gotten folk real paranoid, or at least highly weary, of the potential surveillance that individuals and communities could be subject to under the Trump presidency. This feeling of social and cultural uneasiness can lead people to mistrust each other and is fertile ground for even the most outlandish conspiracy theories. It is not that people are suddenly being too melodramatic: the lack of transparency of an agency such as ICE, that can literally decide over matter of life and death, is harmful beyond control. 

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Twitter Has Busted a Ring of Fake Accounts That Posed As Black Trump Supporters

Things That Matter

Twitter Has Busted a Ring of Fake Accounts That Posed As Black Trump Supporters

Photo: George Frey/Getty Images

On Monday, Twitter announced that it has suspended 15 Twitter accounts of “Black Trump supporters” that they discovered were fake. The accounts were similar in nature, tweeting out nearly identical messages, like “YES IM BLACK AND IM VOTING FOR TRUMP!!!” and “VOTE REPUBLICAN”. The accounts quickly amassed thousands of followers and retweets.

The fake “Black Trump Supporter” accounts were discovered by social media disinformation researcher Darren Linvill, who flagged the accounts and reported them to Twitter.

The accounts violate Twitter’s rule barring users from using the platform “in a manner intended to artificially amplify or suppress information or engage in behavior that manipulates or disrupts people’s experience.”

The Twitter accounts sourced their profile photos through internet image searches. One profile photo even included the search term “black man photo” at the top of the profile photo–proving that someone stole the photo from the internet and (sloppily) cropped it. Others were revealed, via reverse-image searching, to be generic stock photos of Black people.

The accounts seemed to follow a pattern: the Black Trump supporters were devout Christians, veterans, blue-collar workers, police officers…you get the picture. 

“They are impersonating Black Trump supporters, Black authoritative figures such as veterans and police officers, and various prominent individuals in order to gain rapid traction and virality,” said cybersecurity manager Lee Foster to The Washington Post.

Linvill says that the accounts don’t necessarily appear to be a coordinated campaign, although he did find traces of the Russian alphabet  in the accounts’ online records. Linvill hypothesizes that the accounts might have had monetary motives–they often tweeted out links to buy Trump merchandise. 

Another theory is that, based on the timing, whoever created the fake accounts is trying to change what appears to be the persistent narrative that President Trump is racist. The accounts became much more active in recent months, around the time when Trump refused to condemn white supremacist groups on national TV. These “Black Trump supporters” make it seem like he actually has the support of Black Americans. 

But polls and surveys prove that Trump is highly unpopular among Black Americans. The Pew Research Center shows that 81% of Black voters support Biden in the upcoming election. 

These most recent fake Twitter accounts are one of the many ways that the Republican Party has been attempting to manipulate voters this election cycle. Along with spreading disinformation, the party has set up unsanctioned ballot drop-off boxes across California. The Governor of Texas, Rick Abbott (R) also made headlines recently for restricting the amount of official ballot boxes in Texas to only one per county–a move that critics slammed as a transparent attempt to suppress the Latino vote.

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The ‘How It Started’ Memes Are Filled With The Funny And Wholesome Content We All Need In 2020

Culture

The ‘How It Started’ Memes Are Filled With The Funny And Wholesome Content We All Need In 2020

@xolei3 / Twitter

It is not a lie to say that 2020 has been a year of disappointment and high-stress scenarios. We’ve had to quarantine from a virus, wildfires are destroying a lot of land, and well, everything else going on has just made things worse. Fortunately, on Twitter trend is giving everyone a chance to see that things can get better.

Let’s face it, 2020 has been a tough year for everyone but one Twitter trend is making life a little better.

We’ve all seen the “How It Started” memes taking over social media in recent weeks. The memes are both funny and inspirational with some showing some amazing glow ups and others showing the crushing reality of everyday life. We have all felt like the man crying over 2020 at some point over the last 7 months. It’s like this year just doesn’t stop.

Relationships are a big part of this meme trend.

Oof. This is painful and so many of us know this to be true. 😭 Sure, we can all blame our relationship woes on the current state of the world. However, that would just be doing a disservice to ourselves and our love lives. Most of us who are single now have been single for a very long time pre-Covid. But, hey, no one knows that you’re lying if you blame Covid.

A few wonderful people highlighted their transition into their true selves.

Stunning. Show-stopping. Magnificent. We love to see it. There is nothing better to see in this world than someone living their authentic truth. Like, go and do your thing. Slay all of the hearts you see, honey, and take no prisoners. We are all better in their world to be surrounded by people living in complete honesty.

The Lil Nas X joined in on the fun and highlighted his own meteoric rise to fame.

The “Old Town Road” singer really did make a big name for himself. Not only did his song get made into a duet and remix with every artist imaginable, he beat Mariah Carey’s record. Lil Nas X went from someone that no one knew to unseating Mariah Carey for longest time spent at No. 1 on the Billboard Charts.

There are some very clever takes on this meme.

So, like, who else feels like they are being personally attacked by this meme? College might have been years ago but these memories linger. Tequila is just one of those things that so many of use have to learn the hard way and those lessons stick with you.

Simone Biles gave us one of the most memorable glow ups of the meme challenge.

Simone Biles is one of the most legendary women to ever walk this planet. The way she was able to make herself known around the world as the best gymnast is no short feat. She is and will always be one of the best women to represent the U.S. in the Olympics.

READ: President Trump Thinks Injecting Disinfectants Could Cure COVID-19 And The Memes Are Hilarious

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