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Why Fake Activist and Backout Tuesday Posts Are Sparking Outrage

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  • Some white protestors are being accused of attending demonstrations for Instagram content, rather than to stand up against racism and police brutality. 
  • Meanwhile, others are criticizing participants of #BlackoutTuesday, pointing out that they are clogging up critical channels of information by using Black Lives Matter hashtags to post all black squares.
  • Some feel that the movement wrongfully encourages silence, and others are asking people to remember that the movement morphed from an initial music industry protest launched by two black women.

Protesting for Content, Not the Cause 

People all across the country have been searching for ways to support the black community and call for justice since the killing of George Floyd, whether it be through protests, donations, or difficult conversations about race. But there are some forms of activism that have been slammed as disingenuous, and others that some feel might actually be hurting the cause. 

First, let’s look at examples of “fake activism” that have sparked some of the most backlash online. Over the past few days, several social media posts have surfaced showing white people seeming to use the ongoing protests for internet content. 

One of the biggest examples of this came from YouTuber Jake Paul, who was accused of looting with his friends in Arizona, which he later denied. Others were angry to see him at the protest at all, believing that he was only there for vlog footage.

But here’s another example you might’ve seen online. In one Twitter post, you can see a conversation between two friends, which was screengrabbed from one of the person’s “close friends” Instagram story. 

In it, one discusses getting drunk and going to a protest, asking “is that like so dangerous.” The other responds with, “omg i’m so down,” followed by “let me find a riot outfit.”

That Twitter post also included an image of what appears to be the two friends posing for a photo at a protest. The Instagram caption reads: “Plz do ur part but do it safely. #blm go out there and do ur part we owe it.”

Once people saw this, the women were met with a ton of backlash since it appeared that they didn’t actually care about the movement and instead went for the thrill and a photo op. 

The woman who posted the protest photo eventually deleted her account, but plenty of others have been slammed for posing at protests as well. 

In one video that has circulated online, a man is seen photographing a white woman in front of a looted T-Mobile store as the person recording gasps.  

And this next clip really had people up in arms. It shows a woman posing with a drill and a worker as if she’s helping board up a store with wood. Then, she thanks the actual worker and heads back into her Mercedes as someone off-camera says, “Good job guys, BLM.” 

A lot of people online have been describing that woman as an “influencer,” but that’s not actually the case. After some digging, many, including New York Times reporter Taylor Lorenz, actually identified her as Fiona Moriarty-McLaughlin, a conservative political writer for the Washinton Examiner. 

People also found her Twitter account, which she set to private and later deleted, but not before someone screengrabbed a tweet she previously wrote that said: “As if vandalizing all the buildings in LA wasn’t enough #Blklivesmatter has taken to the billboards as a crow of rioters roars in approval.” 

Ouai, the haircare brand that purchased the billboard actually ended up showing support for the changes to their sign. The brand owner, celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkin, said the person in the photo “made our sign even better,” and even wrote on Instagram, “I would have climbed up there myself.”

According to Insider, Moriarty-McLaughlin also allegedly posted other people’s footage from protests to blame vandalization on “Paid #Antifa thugs,” even though there is no evidence to suggest that they were members of the movement.

Criticism of #BlackoutTuesday

So, those were all posts pretty worthy of backlash, but what about activism that seems to come from a good place? 

As you may already know, people all over the world are participating in a movement today called Blackout Tuesday.

That protest was initially spearheaded by two black music executives, Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang. Their initiative is called #TheShowMustBePaused and as part of it, members of the music industry committed to postponing new releases and temporarily suspending business operations.

Instead, they called it a day to “take a beat for an honest, reflective and productive conversation about what actions we need to collectively take to support the Black community.” 

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#theshowmustbepaused

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This was a really important industry to thrust its support behind the black community because as the execs note, it benefits “from the efforts, struggles and successes of back people.” 

But after several labels, streaming services, and artists supported the movement, it started to evolve. Others on social media began sharing images of black squares as a way to show solidarity with black victims of police brutality and racism. At some point, this movement was dubbed Blackout Tuesday, and celebrities started joining in, like Katy Perry, Tom Holland, and Drake. 

Other brands even tried to figure out their own ways to participate, with some like Rihanna’s Fenty labels suspending sales for the day.

The problem here is that, unlike these celebs, a lot of people are uploading these black squares using the hashtags #BLM or #BlackLivesMatter. In response to this, some Twitter users are saying things like: “This is counter-productive. Please understand what ur doing before u do it. Amplify black voices WITHOUT silencing the movement.”

Some big names seemed to agree. Actor Kumail Nanjiani, for instance, asked people to not use Black Lives Matter hashtags, saying “It’s pushing down important and relevant content. Use #BlackOutTuesday.”

Model Gigi Hadid, singer Lizzo, and others also warned against using black lives matter hashtags.

However, another issue with the movement is that it’s also being understood by some as a day to remain silent and not post online. Because of this, Lil Nas X spoke out against it. 

The musical artist wrote on Twitter, “i know y’all mean well but… bro saying stop posting for a day is the worst idea ever”

“ i just really think this is the time to push as hard as ever. i don’t think the movement has ever been this powerful. we don’t need to slow it down by posting nothing. we need to spread info and be as loud as ever.”

He also warned about important posts being drowned out and asked whether it might be a better idea to instead post donation and petition links at the same time.

Singer Kehlani expressed similar concerns in a series of tweets, but she also asked that people remember the original music industry initiative started by two black women.

“Seen less of that tag and proper info on that…industry folks need to specifically boost the ORIGINAL info,” she said.

Concerns about Blackout Tuesday are starting to be heard, so it’s likely that we’ll see different versions of the movement on social media throughout the day. Still, a lot of people are unsure of what they should do.

For example, YouTuber James Charles said Tuesday morning that he’s seen mixed opinions about Blackout Tuesday, so he asked his black followers if they think he should remove his Instagram post, which does not include a Black Lives Matter hashtag. 

Right now, it seems like more and more people are asking that the public not remain silent about the issues at hand and focus their attention on the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Others also ask that if you post a black square, you also do what you can do to support the black community, whether it be by sharing donation links, petitions, or sincerely calling out racism. 

See what others are saying: (Variety) (The Verge) (Dazed)  

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Facebook Employees Hold Virtual Walkout Over Zuckerberg’s Stance on Trump Posts

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Source: Mark Lennihan/AP/Shutterstock

  • Twitter put a warning message over a Tweet from President Donald Trump Thursday which it said “glorifies violence.”
  • In that tweet, Trump criticized the nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd, warning that“when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
  • The move escalated tensions between Trump and Twitter. Last week the feud prompted Trump to issue an executive order aimed at restricting social media platforms’ ability to police their own content.
  • Employees at Facebook, which did not issue any sort of warning for the exact same post, are furious at CEO Mark Zuckerberg for allowing that post to remain.

Facebook Employees Angry

Twitter angered President Donald Trump last week after issuing warnings on several of his tweets, and now, Facebook employees are now targeting their CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, for not doing the same.

Twitter’s issued a fact-check warning on Trump’s May 26 tweets, which falsely claimed that increased access to mail-in voting will lead to extensive voter fraud.

Then, Thursday night, the company followed up by hiding a different tweet from the president that it said “glorifies violence.”

Notably, these are the first instances where Twitter has corrected or censored Trump, something many have called on them to do for years. 

Facebook, however, has stuck to its policy to not censor the president’s speech, even if it could be interpreted as violence. 

“I’ve been struggling with how to respond to the President’s tweets and posts all day,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post on Friday. “Personally, I have a visceral negative reaction to this kind of divisive and inflammatory rhetoric.”

“But I’m responsible for reacting not just in my personal capacity but as the leader of an institution committed to free expression,”  he added. 

“I disagree strongly with how the President spoke about this, but I believe people should be able to see this for themselves, because ultimately accountability for those in positions of power can only happen when their speech is scrutinized out in the open.”

Zuckerberg’s post was yet another defense of his long-held stance regarding the platform’s responsibility to censor violent speech and misinformation from politicians. 

Still, Zuckerberg’s unwavering stance has resulted in a number of Facebook employees publicly disagreeing with their boss. 

“Inaction is not the answer,” employee Diego Mendes said on Sunday. “Facebook leadership is wrong.” 

@DiegoMendes

Other employees continued to take to Twitter to express their opposition to Zuckerberg’s philosophy, one saying, “I work at Facebook and I am not proud of how we’re showing up. The majority of coworkers I’ve spoken to feel the same way. We are making our voice heard.”

Monday, dozens of Facebook employees staged a virtual walkout in further protest of Zuckerberg’s “inaction.” Many also took to Twitter with #TakeAction.

During the virtual protest, The New York Times reported that two senior employees threatened to resign if Zuckerberg does not change course on Facebook’s policy.

“We recognize the pain many of our people are feeling right now, especially our Black community,” a Facebook spokesperson told CNBC in a statement Monday. “We encourage employees to speak openly when they disagree with leadership. As we face additional difficult decisions around content ahead, we’ll continue seeking their honest feedback.”

Zuckerberg will meet with his staff Tuesday to discuss disputes over those posts, moving his weekly meeting up from Thursday in response to the walkout.

Twitter Flags Trump Tweet

Trump’s tweet Thursday was critical of the protests that became violence following the death of George Floyd.

In the first of two tweets, Trump says he can’t stand by and watch the situation in Minneapolis. He goes on to jab Mayor Jacob Frey for being a “weak radical left mayor.”

But that tweet was never flagged. It was actually Trump’s second tweet that Twitter targeted because, in it, Trump said, “…when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

“This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence,” Twitter wrote above the tweet, which is hidden and must be clicked into while on the site. “However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”

While Twitter did not delete the tweet, it has disabled all likes and replies on the post. Currently, the only way to directly share the tweet is to retweet it with a comment.

Early Friday morning, Twitter followed up with another statement, where it explained that the tweet violated “policies regarding the glorification of violence based on the historical context of the last line, its connection to violence, and the risk it could inspire similar actions today.”

As many online have also noted, the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” carries with it a deeply dividing history. 

It’s first known use was in 1967 by Miami police chief Walter Headley to describe his department’s plans to crack down on protests in black neighborhoods. According to historians, that phrase was even considered to have contributed to the city’s race riots in the late 1960s.

White House Quotes Censored Trump Tweet

In opposition to Twitter’s decision, Friday morning, the White House Twitter account quoted Trump’s censored tweet. That tweet then got hit with the same warning.

The White House later posted another tweet defending the president, saying he didn’t glorify violence.

“He clearly condemned it,” the account said. “@Jack [Dorsey] and Twitter’s biased, bad-faith “fact-checkers” have made it clear: Twitter is a publisher, not a platform.”

In addition to the White House, Trump continued his battle against Twitter Friday morning in a series of tweets that accused the site of having an anti-conservative bias. 

“Looting leads to shooting, and that’s why a man was shot and killed in Minneapolis on Wednesday night – or look at what just happened in Louisville with 7 people shot,” Trump also said in defense of his original comment. “I don’t want this to happen, and that’s what the expression put out last night means.”

“It was spoken as a fact, not as a statement. It’s very simple, nobody should have any problem with this other than the haters, and those looking to cause trouble on social media. Honor the memory of George Floyd!” 

Trump’s Executive Order

Prior to posting this original comment on Thursday, Trump signed an executive order aiming to restrict social media platforms’ ability to police their own content.

Following this, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey promised to continue issuing fact-checks and even warnings against Trump if he’s found in violation of Twitter’s policies.

On Friday, prompted by journalists, Google released a statement saying that undermining the statute that affords platforms their freedoms to moderate their content would “hurt America’s economy and its global leadership on internet freedom.” 

Still, both Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Representative Matt Gaetz have promised to introduce legislation that would roll back this statue. For his part, Trump has been very receptive of that idea.

However, there have been a number of reports that any restriction could face major hurdles with the Federal Communications Commission as well as in court over whether such a move would impinge on speech freedoms. 

See what others are saying: (Reuters) (Forbes) (CNBC)

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International

Taiwanese President Pledges Support for Hong Kong After China Proposes National Security Law

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  • On Thursday, the Chinese government announced that it was proposing a new national security law aimed at Hong Kong.
  • The law is meant to criminalize any attempts at secession, subversion, or terrorism against mainland China in the autonomous city-state. 
  • Though protests had already been scheduled to oppose different measures being proposed in Hong Kong, they quickly shifted on Sunday to include opposition to the likely-to-be-passed national security law.
  • Also on Sunday, Twainese President Tsai Ing-wen said that Taiwan “stands with the people of Hong Kong.”

China Proposes National Security Law

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said in a Facebook post on late Sunday that she “stands with the people of Hong Kong” as mainland China prepares to implement a sweeping new national security law that pro-democracy advocates argue could strip Hong Kong of its autonomy.

The law, proposed by the Chinese government on Thursday, is a direct response to the massive protests that have rocked Hong Kong since last year following a proposed extradition bill that would have made it easier for the mainland to target Hong Kongers critical of the Chinese government. 

Hong Kong enjoys many freedoms that the mainland lacks. That is because, for more than 150 years, Hong Kong was a British colony. Then, in 1997, Britain handed Hong Kong back to mainland China; however, under a unique agreement called Basic Law, Hong Kong was allowed to retain its freedoms of assembly and speech, with that agreement set to last 50 years. 

The proposed national security law is not the first time China has actively tried to exert more power over Hong Kong over the years, but it is the mainland’s most blatant attempt yet to crackdown on protests.

Notably, it would criminalize a number of acts in Hong Kong, including:

  • Secession, or the right to declare independence from the mainland;
  • Subversion, or undermining the power or authority of the mainland;
  • Terrorism, 
  • Any activities by foreign forces that interfere in Hong Kong. 

The law would also allow mainland China to implement its own law enforcement agencies in Hong Kong to “fulfill relevant duties to safeguard national security.” 

Large Scale Protests Ramp Up for the First Time Since Lockdown

A large scale protest was originally scheduled to be held on Sunday to oppose a bill in Hong Kong’s legislature that would criminalize disrespecting the Chinese national anthem. After China’s announcement of this new bill, the focus shifted.

On Sunday, thousands of protesters ignored social distancing orders as they marched through the streets. This was the first instance of a large scale protest since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

While most of the protest was peaceful, in a scene now not uncommon for Hong Kong, several clashes between protesters and police occurred.

Police threw tear gas to disperse demonstrators, reportedly because the demonstrators had set up roadblocks and thrown objects at officers. Along with tear gas, police also fired other familiar projectiles at protesters, including a water cannon and rubber bullets. 

By the end of the protest, more than 180 people were arrested, four officers were injured, and six other people were hospitalized—including one woman in critical condition.

Alongside that protest, on Sunday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi continued to defend the proposed national security law, saying that it’s aimed only at a: “very narrow category of acts that seriously jeopardise national security.”

He added that the law would have “no impact on Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy, the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents, or the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investors in Hong Kong.”

“Instead of becoming unnecessarily worried, people should have more confidence in Hong Kong’s future,” he said.

Still, his comments have failed to assuage or persuade pro-democracy advocates. According to The Washington Post, this law could lead to secret police, surveillance, arbitrary detentions, and even propaganda in classrooms.

International Response to the Proposed Law

One of the big questions that remains is to what degree the United States might intervene—especially since the law would criminalize foreign forces interfering with Hong Kong. 

So far, the U.S. hasn’t promised any specific action, but on Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called security law a “death knell” and said he strongly urged Beijing to reconsider the “disastrous proposal.”

Late Sunday night, Taiwanese President Tsai said that if the law is implemented, then Hong Kong’s core values of freedom and judicial independence will be severely eroded.

Still, it likely will be implemented as Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said that she’ll fully support the law, arguing that it will improve business confidence without eroding freedoms.

On Tuesday, Lam continued to call on citizens to support the legislation, saying, “We are a very free society, so for the time being people have the freedom to say whatever they want to say.”

However, she also added that once the law passes, that could make demonstrations like we’ve seen over the past year illegal. 

Also Tuesday morning, reports indicated that Hong Kong demand for VPN’s surged more than 600% the day that China announced the draft law.

See what others are saying: (CNBC) (BBC) (South China Morning Post)

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