New Twitter Propaganda Explores Just How Gullible Trump Supporters May Be

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False news stories, especially about politics, have been circulating online for some time now, with the 2016 election acting as a lightning rod for them. There have also been plenty of hoaxes in the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s disastrous impacts on Texas—notably fooling Fox News into running a fake picture of a shark in flood waters—and those two phenomena finally combined for something truly absurd.

In what I have to believe started as propaganda by Twitter bots, a line began circulating that accused President Obama of golfing during Hurricane Katrina rather than doing anything about it:

Surely, those who are history scholars (or who know what history is) can spot the problem with this: Barack Obama wasn’t the president when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. Yes, that alone would simply make this bit of propaganda even more ridiculous than usual. There’s generally an effort, no matter how absurd, to at least try to confuse and obfuscate the truth when the bot armies start their chants, so this one sticks out as pretty easily proven false.

But even worse is that Obama did visit with survivors taking refuge from Hurricane Katrina, in Houston’s Astrodome, though he was just a senator at the time:

There’s enough real hypocrisy to go around right now that we don’t need to make things up. Texas Senator Ted Cruz is taking a lot of heat for his disingenuous claims that the Sandy disaster relief bill he opposed was bad because of too much funding for things that weren’t disaster relief related, or related enough. Vice President Mike Pence was also very concerned with where the funding was going to come from for Katrina relief efforts, but that hasn’t been a focus of the administration he’s now part of. To be fair, maybe he’s just assuming that they’re already planning to cut enough money from other necessary programs that help people.

President Obama also visited with victims of Sandy’s devastation just a few years ago, while Donald Trump notably didn’t meet with any victims during his visit to Texas. While it’s more than likely that this line’s sudden prevalence is due to certain propaganda machines and bots on Twitter, it’s disappointingly likely to achieve its desired effect and take some people in. According to a poll from 2014, a third of Louisiana Republicans blame President Obama for failings in the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina.

So while this propaganda line is so easily proven false that there’s no way it started as anything other than a deliberately disingenuous ploy, there’s plenty of reason to think that it’s capable of rewriting history in some people’s minds. Well-crafted “fake news” is dangerous on its own, but if it turns out that people are gullible enough to believe even this nonsense, we’re in very big trouble.

(image: image: Shutterstock/a katz)

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Dan Van Winkle
Dan Van Winkle (he) is an editor and manager who has been working in digital media since 2013, first at now-defunct <em>Geekosystem</em> (RIP), and then at <em>The Mary Sue</em> starting in 2014, specializing in gaming, science, and technology. Outside of his professional experience, he has been active in video game modding and development as a hobby for many years. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (their dog), both of whom are the best, and you will regret challenging him at <em>Smash Bros.</em>