United States lives a new hate controversy On Friday, October 18, an anti-abortion march and another one of indigenous peoples coincided in Washington. At the end, several groups gathered together at the Lincoln Memorial. Among them, Native American and Vietnam veteran Nathan Phillips and teenagers from the Covington Catholic School in Kentucky, some wearing hats "Make America Great Again", the slogan of President Trump.
The next morning, Saturday 19, began to circulate on Twitter a 1 minute video where he saw Phillips singing to a young man from Covington, who looked at him with a half smile. Behind them, other kids shouted. The image recalled tense confrontations of the struggle for civil rights in the sixties.
The next day, on Sunday, other videos appeared and other protagonists that modified the narrative. The teenagers were no longer the only ones who shouted. That was a screaming battle between at least three groups. Since then, everyone has seen the heroes and villains he wanted to see in the confrontation. The result has been the same as other times: polarization, lynchings and insults in networks, political division. The same president tweeted his support to the youth of Covington.
But how did everything begin? That's what I know asked CNN. He discovered that the most viral tweet – now erased – had left on Saturday morning from the @ 2020fight account. There were, however, three strange details: he had almost as many followers as he had followed (about 40,000 for 37,000), he tweeted a lot every day (bot signal) and, above all, despite the fact that in his bio he said that he was a teacher from California called "Talia" ", the photo was actually from Nah Cardoso, a influencer Brazilian with 7.6 million followers on Instagram.
Why such a quick suspension?
From CNN asked @ 2020fight to Twitter, which suspended the account immediately. Suspicions increased: will Twitter have acted so fast because it was an account fake based in another country? Maybe in Russia? The official explanation of Twitter is not definitive: "Deliberate attempts to manipulate the public conversation on Twitter using misleading information in an account is a violation of the rules of Twitter" and, therefore, the account is suspended.
A stolen photo is "cheat" and enough reason to suspend the account. But there are thousands of accounts with stolen or catalog photos that are not suspended. Why such a hurry precisely with this? The suspension prevents a good analysis of the account.
Several disinformation experts came out last Tuesday to question the Russian version. Ben Nimmo, from the Atlantic Forensic Research Laboratory of the Atlantic Council, who has analyzed millions of Facebook posts and tweets fake, He admitted that "there was no evidence to suggest an operation of foreign influence." Despite the rate of publication of the account, its very partisan leftist tweets and success of other messages, there was nothing concrete that suggested that it came from abroad. The native turns in English that the account used, for example, were unlike those of a Russian or Iranian citizen.
But there is another important detail: @ 2020fight was offered on the Shoutcart website. There any user can pay so that you have thousands of followers tweet the message they want. @ 2020fight was announced as "influential among young people of 20 and 30 years". There is also no evidence that anyone paid to publish those videos. The price was only open to registered users, but it should not be more than a few tens of dollars.
THREAD – I found that @ 2020fight – the account that helped the Covington High School video go viral, according to @CNN, and that Twitter suspended shortly after, had services for hire on Shoutcart – a service that allows users to pay influencers to post videos on their behalf. pic.twitter.com/n9s4Q4AyLM
– Sam Riddell (@RiddellSam) 22 de gener de 2019
A possible origin of the videos of the confrontation between the teenagers and Phillips is on the night of the 18th and the early morning of the 19th from accounts of the activist KC Noland. In your Youtube account He only has six videos, all of that day. A few hours later, the account @ 2020fight made the tweet really viral, which saw more than 5 million people.
Whatever the path by which everything began, the controversy, the rectifications, the accusations of this show are a new example of how the information landscape works today: from the corners of the internet a topic that dominates the coverage for a week may emerge . Would something like this have been made viral in other ways? Who knows. But without social networks, it is unlikely. The Congress has also asked to Twitter to explain how the whole virality process happened.
The immediacy of Twitter is toxic on these occasions. Users who heat up and dazzle quickly release grandiloquent phrases that, when the argument seems to turn, are screwed into their positions while others apologize. The media that jump with the first version must also stop, some even act of public contrition and provoke accusations of disinformation of supporters of the president, which takes the opportunity to extend with tweets – and perhaps with a reception at the White House for young people – the mess.
All this is just a first bite of the appetizer of an eternal electoral campaign until November 2020.
From the places that enjoy seeing how the United States is gutted inside, it is another victory. And maybe without doing anything other than watching.