The Black Feminists Who Saw the Alt-Right Threat Coming is a terrific story on Slate about just how long coordinated misinformation campaigns meant to whip up anger at a particular group have been going on:
In the summer of 2014, various American black women on Twitter noticed new Twitter accounts claiming to be black feminists and promoting a campaign with the hashtag #EndFathersDay that derided black American men. "The clearest red flag was the accounts’ inability to hide their contempt for the very people they were attempting to imitate. They tweeted about collecting welfare checks and smoking weed, with an occasional screed against white people. And most of these accounts spoke a version of African American Vernacular English that no real black person had ever used." Soon several REAL black feminists were combing through the #EndFathersDay tweets, retweeting the accounts they believed were masquerading as black women and adding #YourSlipIsShowing to expose them to other activists. They posted screenshots of accounts that were falsely using photos of black women they knew. Eventually, one of the real Black feminists started Googling around and found the source from which #EndFathersDay had sprung: "the original 4chan post outlining the fake hashtag as part of a crusade by men’s rights activists, pickup artists, and miscellaneous misogynists hoping to capitalize on previously existing rifts in the online feminist movement related to race and class... Users on 4chan had seemingly been observing the tensions among black and white feminists online and decided that creating fake accounts for black feminists was one way to further stoke those tensions by painting black feminists as hysterical and radical."
Using the tag #YourSlipIsShowing, the activist posted screenshots from 4chan to Twitter as evidence of the premeditation behind the hoax. The very same 4chan boards that had birthed #EndFathersDay spawned a new misogynistic harassment campaign mere months later: Gamergate. And to the black feminists behind #YourSlipIsShowing, the idea that violent speech on the internet could easily translate to an actual physical threat was never a question.
In November 2017, on an episode of the American TV show Full Frontal With Samantha Bee about the influence of Russian bots and trolls on the 2016 election, Bee gave a shoutout to #YourSlipIsShowing and the black women who popularized it. In the segment, Bee describes Russia’s efforts to sway black voters by fueling the racial tensions that are already so close to the surface of American life. Specifically, Bee mentioned the phony social media campaign “Blacktivist,” which was found to be linked to the Russian government and whose Facebook page had more likes than the official Black Lives Matter Facebook page. Bee drew a direct line between Blacktivist and the account the #YourSlipIsShowing activists had noticed three years prior.
If you want to follow any of these amazing activists/cybersleuths - and REAL Black women activists - yourself on Twitter: @AngryBlackLady @garveyschild @sassycrass @so_treu
This is a really important story to read and understand, because there are, unfortunately, many people who are working to create and cultivate hostility and discontent among specific groups. Anyone working on any information campaign needs to be on the lookout for these kinds of counter-campaign efforts - and know how to quickly mobilize online volunteers to response.