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Social Media Rumors and the Media – A Toxic Combination

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Social Media Rumors and the Media – A Toxic Combination

Thanks to social media rumors, The Washington Post’s Doris Truong has learned first-hand what the Sandy Hook shooter’s brother faced because of the media.

“Don’t run with that name! It’s wrong!”

“How do you know?” was the repeated reply.

“I know, pure and simple. You’re wrong about who did this. That man doesn’t match the profile, at all!”

My reply kept gaining urgency, as I kept watching members of the media on television leap to use the name I was saying was wrong.

“But, it’s the only name we can find.”

It was December 14, 2012, and those first two sentences said and typed frantically had become my mantra of the day. Adam Lanza was later correctly named as the Sandy Hook Elementary shooter, and I lost respect for more journalists than I can count. They initially reported that it was Adam’s brother, who I kept saying it couldn’t be. I watched helplessly as that poor man lost friends on Facebook, and eventually started pleading with anyone who would listen on social media to stop saying he was the shooter. He was in Manhattan, while his brother had been the shooter.

And there was never really any apology given by anyone in the press for what they had done to Adam Lanza’s brother.

We’ve gone downhill since then, and now it has gone full circle – inaccurate accusations leveled against members of the press. Doris Truong from the Washington Post knows now what it’s like to be the subject of false accusations in social media, at least. She ended up in a firestorm over someone else appearing to take pictures of papers during Rex Tillerson’s Senate confirmation hearing.

Presumably the logic was “She’s Asian, a member of the press, so it must be her!”

With the Sandy Hook shooting, it was the press trying to get the scoop, and get the name out there first. Now, it’s citizens raising hell on social media without thinking before they tweet. The concept of consequences for one’s actions has gone out the window, and has been replaced by a blood lust for scandal. Like it or not, the political landscape of the US is turning into a misanthrope’s paradise, where truth doesn’t matter, and negative feelings rule.

Yes, this is all about the “feelz,” and the irony is not lost on me, as so many of the biggest offenders lately are on the right – you know, the ones who have been ridiculing the other side over “safe spaces” and acting on feelings as opposed to facts.

In Truong’s case, not only did the people who attacked her on social media not know what actually happened in the hearing, but they didn’t bother to find out if she was even there – she wasn’t. Everything started because it looked like a woman was photographing Tillerson’s notes, but even that isn’t verified. (Or at least it doesn’t appear that there are photos anywhere in the public eye proving it.)

While such behavior might be questionable, let’s be brutally honest with ourselves for a moment, shall we? The notes in question were for a public hearing in front of a Senate committee. Are these people trying to say that these notes have some super-secret information that was never intended for public consumption?

If so, Tillerson was doing it wrong.

Seriously, ask yourselves the important question here – why in the world would Tillerson have notes containing any information he did not intend to share publicly during that hearing in his possession in the first place?

Obviously, the people who wrongly attacked Truong on social media believe that Tillerson must have all his “secrets” on paper, in his possession, at all times. They must think that, or else there would be no real reason to attack anyone over what appeared to be happening in that room.

Like Adam Lanza’s brother, it’s fair to guess that there will be no apologies forthcoming for this ridiculous exercise in mob mentality against Truong.

For the entrepreneurs out there, I can see a future cottage industry in this. We’ve all heard of identity monitoring and recovery services. Coming soon – social media reputation monitoring and recovery.

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Liz Harrison
About Liz Harrison 66 Articles
Political commentator, former campaign operative, media executive, legal and medical writer, literary editor and publisher. Founder at Vigilant Liberty Radio, podcaster and radio talk-show host, and a sexual freedom activist.

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