Record, Report, Reach Out
As the largest protest wave in U.S. history continues, the work of local activists is under attack by malicious outsiders who do not want people standing together in defense of Black lives. From President Trump to white nationalist groups, bad actors may try to smear your efforts on social media or with fliers and other material.
Here is a quick guide on how to respond if you find your efforts under attack.
Remember the three Rs:
- Reach Out
If the content is online, screenshot the content in a way that catches the time, date, and sender if possible. Do not comment, like, or share the content in a direct way–that just spreads it further to people who are connected to you on social media. If you must comment, do so on a posted screenshot, or reach out to people you know who posted it in a direct way via a direct message.
If the content is in a physical document like a flier or poster, take a photo of it that gets all of the document in the frame of the camera shot.
Call your local law enforcement ASAP to let them know about the fake information about outside agitators and/or any threats. White nationalists are targeting law enforcement to repeat, spread, and act on misinformation, so it's important to de-escalate with the truth as soon as possible. Share your screenshots with them. Document your outreach so you can demonstrate to others (like the media) that you informed the authorities.
Notify social media companies about the false information. [Here are reporting tools for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Nextdoor.]
Contact public officials and ask them to report to the police and to the social media companies. This is very important. These institutions often prioritize complaints coming from public officials.
Contact local business leaders. While being VERY CLEAR that you are alerting them to lies being spread in the community, consider reaching out to local businesses about your event and to notify them about outsiders’ scare tactics.
The Truth Sandwich
When notifying people about lies being spread online, use the “truth sandwich” method.
- State what is true.
- If it’s important for the public to know a false claim has been made, report that malicious or misinformed people are spreading incorrect or dubious information.
- Repeat the truth again.
Example Truth Sandwich
- This weekend, your friends and neighbors in __________ are organizing a rally downtown in defense of Black lives. It’s a local effort to call for an end to racist violence against Black people in our community and nationwide.
- White supremacists and other outsiders are spreading lies about our event online and through fliers posted around town. Those fliers and posts are false. They are lies being spread by outsiders who want to divide our community for their own agenda.
- Our rally is being planned and attended by _________ residents, and we are standing up for safety for Black people, for all people. We hope you will join us!
The Best Defense is a Good Offense: Publicize Your Event!
Don’t wait for white nationalists and other divisive outsiders to define your event in the minds of members of the community. Share true information about your event on social media and directly with members of the public and elected officials. Invite them to attend and to learn about what’s driving your activism.
Background on Misinformation
NBC News:: Antifa rumors spread on local social media with no evidence
“False rumors that antifa is organizing bus rides to take protesters into white neighborhoods and loot homes have gone viral in recent days on digital neighborhood platforms and in group texts throughout the U.S.”
This information was adapted by People’s Action from material prepared by RuralOrganizing.org, George Lakoff, and CBS News.