Although racist trolling isn’t exactly new to social media, an article published by NPR’s Code Switch yesterday (March 21) says that a new form of subterfuge—White racists pretending to be Black via fake accounts to infiltrate and divide Black Twitter—may be on the rise.
The Atlantic’s Vann Newkirk tells Code Switch’s Neha Rashid that two recent instances involving Twitter accounts that featured avatars of Black people stood apart from the usual hateful messages he receives: one where the user said she was fine with her son experiencing police brutality, and another where the person justified Emmett Till‘s death.
"I’m used to trolling, and it doesn’t bother me, but the idea of a Black woman selling her sons out to police with everything we know now was so sad to me that I couldn’t wrap my mind around it," says Newkirk. "And the idea that anyone—let alone a Black person—could say Emmett Till deserved to die is just so beyond the pale," he says.
Newkirk added that this behavior seemed to coincide with President Donald Trump‘s election and the digital circulation of guides instructing would-be trolls on how to create fake accounts and sow discord. Rashid describes one of these guides, called "How to be a N****r on Twitter," published by White supremacist website The Daily Stormer as follows:
Some of the steps to creating a fake account include pretending to know people they might be related to, calling people out on their drug dealing activities and accusing them of being Neo-Nazis using fake accounts. This way, [Daily Stormer founder and article author Andrew] Anglin writes, "Blacks will then accuse each other of having fake accounts and start reporting each other."
#OscarsSoWhite creator and journalist April Reign mentions one way that Twitter users can spot these people: "They’re trying to sound Black, whatever that means, but it comes off as very stereotypical," she says. "Even if we sound that way, we don’t type that way—especially when we have characters to spare."
Media scholar Whitney Phillips cautions against calling such offenders "trolls," saying that the term "just gives the person a rhetorical out" and minimizes their hateful impact. She instead suggests we "call it racism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia."
Read the full article here.