There are two reasons why you need to be on social media in order to combat tRump:
1 Mainstream media (MSM) has ceased to be an adequate source of information
- MSM is already compromised:
- Throughout the campaign and post-election, MSM ran tRump rallies without comments, giving him a platform to disseminate baseless propaganda. Whether it was for ratings, actual duplicitousness or a failure to realize the implications of their actions, MSM gave a disproportionate attention to the HRC email scandal and almost completely ignored all the evidence regarding tRump’s ties with Russia and his corrupt business practices.
- tRump has been playing MSM like a violin, granting access only to favorable news outlets, refusing to hold press conferences, telling his followers to trust only him, calling the MSM liars, and picking fake fights with news outlets so that when these outlets (who aren’t actually biased against him) run stories in his favor they look that much more trustworthy. One of tRump’s favorite tactics is misdirection: When a scandal breaks out, he diverts attention away from it. For instance, less than a day after Congress announced a bipartisan commission to investigate the Russian hacking, tRump tweeted a fallacious attack on Civil Rights hero Representative John Lewis, who’d announced that he was boycotting the inauguration, a decision inspired by the revelations associated with the Russian hacking. Social media—which had been focusing on the Congressional investigation—shifted its attention to a defense of John Lewis, a well-deserved defense, but nonetheless distracting for a public with limited time to focus on the issues. For more on tRump’s media tactics, see http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/robert-reich-tyrant-trump-deploying-7-techniques-control-media.
- At tRump’s long-awaited press conference last week, he broke precedent by refusing to answer a question from a CNN reporter, saying that CNN was “fake news.” Meanwhile, pro-tRump supporters were planted among the reporters at the press conference, erupting into applause now and then (unprecedented behavior at a press conference) and “spying” on reporters, looking over their shoulders at their notes and demanding to know if they were going to report what was written. Since the conference, the tRump team has demanded an apology from the CNN reporter.
- Fox, aka the tRump News Network, peddles propaganda in place of objective journalism and, with a few exceptions, the other news networks are falling in line. The editor of The Wallstreet Journal, for instance, has vowed that his publication won’t be calling tRump’s lies “lies.”
- The conclusion is obvious: MSM has and can be expected to continue to fail to provide coverage to important issues that we need to be acting on (with immediate calls to political representatives, boycotts, etc.).
- tRump supporters find themselves cocooned within an “echo chamber” – By watching only Fox News, reading the Neo-Nazi publication Breitbart, following propagandists like Alex Jones of InfoWars, and avidly consuming the falsehoods in tRump’s tweets, tRump supporters are allowed to think that everyone agrees with them. They’re not forced to face any challenges, and the illusion of consensus reinforces their misguided beliefs.
- Finally, tRump is going to be given unprecedented authority over international news agencies reporting on the USA. At the same time, the GOP has passed a bill making it illegal for Democrats to broadcast live streams of Congressional deliberations, and the recently passed Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act will put tRump in charge of his own propaganda bureau.
2 Social Media is being used against us – we need to retake it
Last week’s Congressional hearing on cyber-attacks and the unclassified report regarding the Russian interference in the last election concluded that this interference involved Russians impersonating Americans in order to push “fake news” stories on social media in order to damage tRump’s opponents (also see). Nearly 18% of Twitter traffic related to the election was generated by highly-automated accounts (“bots” that are programmed to act in a certain way, imitating a human user).
- How could the Russians/tRump pull this off? Why would Americans listen to perfect strangers/bots? Remember, forwarding a story—whoever/whatever you are—is enough to increase the chances that the story will “trend.” If something’s trending, it will become more visible to all. From here, it can easily enter “mainstream” American circulation
How do we stop this?
A recent article proposed a simple way to argue with racists family members on social media. The solution: “Delete Facebook and Twitter.”
I have friends who have been following this advice, avoiding social media after the election. Their explanation: They don’t want to have to break off friendships with people—which they’ll have to do if they’re forced to see the bigoted, hateful things they’re saying in social media.
This is the wrong way to go about it. We need to take over social media to:
1 Remove tRump supporters from their “echo chambers” and force them to face reality (even if they don’t accept it)
- You may actually have some success. I like to think that I’ve reached one or two people with my tweets of the dictionary.com definition of “hate speech.” tRump supporters honestly seem to think that anyone who disagrees with them is spewing “hate speech.” I’ve even been told that the terms “racist” and “deplorable” are hate speech. (They’re not. Hate speech is defined as verbal abuse based on gender, ethnicity, religion, or nationality. Don’t let tRump and his supporters redefine words.)
2 Drown out the Russian “trolls”
3 Support allies against tRump (report harassment and boost morale)
4 Mobilize for social action – Consider how recent calls for actions on social media mobilized grassroots action that were successful in:
- Helping the Rockettes avoid a mandatory performance at tRump’s inauguration
- Overturning a proposed bill meant to gut the Congressional Ethics Oversight Committee (tRump, of course, took the credit for overturning this bill, but legislators have confirmed that it was the number of calls pouring in from concerned citizens that really did the trick)
What to do (while this article is going to focus on Twitter and Facebook, we also need to take over other social media platforms, like Reddit):
1 Protect yourself from hackers and surveillance. See:
2 Use Twitter
- If you don’t already have an account, create one / If you already have an account, decide whether or not you want to use it to agitate against tRump
- Protect yourself – Do not share too many private details about yourself. Critics of tRump have been targeted for harassment (threats of physical violence and, in at least one case, sending images meant to induce seizures in epileptic users). You don’t want to be put in physical danger.
- Unlike Facebook, Twitter allows you to have multiple accounts so that you’re use of these accounts doesn’t overlap. So you don’t have to use the account with your real name/face/location. Your friends/family/coworkers/supervisors don’t have to know what you’re doing. I recommend updating your security settings so that users cannot find you using your phone number or address. Consider updating other security settings so that users can’t tag you in a photo without your permission and so that your location isn’t tracked.
- Note: If you use an obviously fake name/picture, you automatically undermine your credibility. So consider 1) using a fake name that looks real and 2) obscuring your face in the photo (with a hat/scarf/cup).Consider creating multiple accounts. Twitter doesn’t allow users to use multiple accounts to perform the same function [like/send (tweet)/resend (retweet) the same stories]. But you can have two accounts that perform separate functions: One account to interact with other critics of tRump and a second account to interact with tRUMP supporters. You’ll read the feedback/messages you receive on the first account and ignore them on the second one.
- The first account helps you to connect with other critics of tRump so that you’re aware of what’s going on, can be mobilized for action, and can help mobilization efforts
- The second account helps you to avoid harassment. You will be using this account to break up the “echo chambers,” but it’s not worth engaging in lengthy disputes with tRump supporters (who may fundamentally lack the empathy required for them to be persuaded by your argument) or paid Russian trolls and automated “bots” programmed to interact with tRump detractors. Interacting with these people/bots, will waste your time and undermine your morale. (For an example of an anti-tRump bot that shows how successful they can be in wasting a person’s time, see https://twitter.com/srhbutts/status/815606960653373440 )
3 Use Facebook
- If you don’t already have an account, create one / If you already have an account, modify settings for against tRump
- Facebook only allows users to have one account. So if you are worried about friends/family/work objecting to your political views, you should modify your settings:
- Restrict your settings so that what you post/share remains private and can’t be viewed by the public. (Note: The things you “like” will still be Public – so opt for Sharing/Posting rather than Liking when you don’t want the public to see what you’re doing).
- When you Post/Share a story, you can choose who will see it. That way, even your family/friends can be blocked from viewing a story you don’t want them to se. First create a Group of the people who follow you and share your views. When you post/share a political story, select this Group to view it.
4 Follow people who say things you’re interested in. Follow the people they’re following. (For instance, @CaptainsLog2016 holds “Resistance parties” to help connect anti-tRump Twitter users – he asks users to reply to his tweet and then to follow the users who do so.) Consider following every anti-tRump person who follows you. If you’re feed becomes too cluttered, you can Mute (in Twitter) or Unfollow (in Facebook, you can Unfollow someone and remain their Friend) so that your feed is easier to comb through.
- Follow Congressional representatives you’re interested in. I follow every Democrat/Independent I can find, even the ones not in my district. We need to boost their voices and stay on top of the legislation they’re proposing so that we can recommend our own legislators endorse it.
- Consider following people you’re not interested in, so that you can monitor their efforts to mobilize effort against critics of tRump. Creating a fake pro-tRump Twitter account may help with this, since pro-tRump accounts may Block anti-tRump users to hide what they’re doing.
- Follow local journalists. Encourage them to cover the stories you’re interested in – local protests, for instance.
- Follow news bureaus so that you are aware of breaking stories and can call them out for bias.
5 Be prepared for harassment – It might not happen, but it’s better to be prepared than to be taken by surprise and demoralized/put in danger
- Even if you aren’t “trolling” (harassing) anyone or criticizing MSM, you may be targeted for harassment, particularly on Twitter. tRump supporters search for hashtags/phrases you may have used in order to find users to attack.
- If a pro-tRump supporter follows/friends you, consider Blocking. Chances are extremely high that they’re trying to mobilize harassment against you.
- If a pro-tRump supporter adds you to a List (in Twitter), Block the user immediately.
- If you are attacked on Twitter, you can:
- Ignore and Block – The user won’t be able to see your tweets after that (user can still see your tweets if signed into a different account)
- Respond once and then Mute – This way, you get to satisfy your need to respond without having to deal with the user’s follow-up response (assuming the user responds). As mentioned above, protracted arguments with tRump supporters/paid trolls/bots are tiring and pointless. I prefer to do this rather than Block, because tRump supporters collect the names of the people who’ve blocked them like trophies.
- If you feel like you are in immediate physical danger, contact the authorities
- If you are attacked on Facebook, you can:
6 Help allies who are being “picked on”
- If someone you follow is being “picked on,” feel free to jump in and add your support, especially if they’re a regular Joe since they might be more vulnerable
- Report harassment
- If you or fellow critics of tRump receive threats of violence or hate speech, report the users who are doing the harassment and ask fellow critics of tRump to do the same. Note: On Twitter, when asking other users to report a user, consider hiding your action from the person being reported so that you’re not targeted for harassment. I recommend taking a screenshot of the user’s offensive tweet and sending the screenshot instead of the offensive tweet itself or else removing the “@” from the user’s name when asking others to report. This way, the user won’t know that you have mentioned him/her.
7 Save stories/graphics that capture an argument that you’re interested in using to boost morale or to respond to MSM/trolls/tRump supporters. Keep the file handy so that you can easily send it. Images that I’ve found useful include charts showing how government money is being spent, picture of a tRump supporter doing the “Heil Hitler” salute, charts comparing Hitler to tRump, and inspirational quotes.
- Double-check any information before sending. Make sure that quotes and charts are accurate and that pictures haven’t been photo-shopped.
8 Agitate against “Fake News” (for instance, the false claim that a pizza parlor in DC was a cover for a Clinton-run pedophilia ring)
- Know how to identify “fake news”:
- Check the url – Be extremely skeptical of articles from InfoWars, Now/News, Breitbart, WordPress (yes, even mine), or with misspellings (abcnews.com.co instead of abcnews.com). A list of misleading news sites can be found at: Snopes
- Verify the date – Is this an old news story that’s being twisted to look new? For instance, is tRump being given credit for keeping jobs in the USA that were slated to stay here well before his election?
- Read the article – Does it actually confirm the headline? Does it back up its claims with experts and primary sources? For instance, an article on NASA’s work on climate change should cite actual NASA experts and link to a NASA publication.
- Verify quotes when possible – Try to trace them back to the original source. Beware of impersonators (See, for instance, how a misspelled name allowed trolls to falsely attribute a tweet to the journalist @Julian Roepcke)
- Look for other MSM outlets reporting the story – If no one else is reporting the story, it may not be legitimate
- Check the story on fact-checking sites such as Politifact, Snopes and FactCheck.org
- When tRump tweets a lie or the MSM reports a misleading headline, send a message with a correction. This breaks up the “echo chamber.”
- Remember: Many people only read headlines. Reporting what tRump says without indicating whether or not it’s true and then later distributing a report calling him out for the falsehood isn’t acceptable; the false news story is already out there.
- Encourage MSM to prioritize facts over speed in reporting a story. They can afford to delay a story in order to double-check that it’s accurate
- Thank MSM when they do a good job.
- Beware of “manufactured consent” – MSM misreporting a story, taking a poll, declaring “popularity” of results, and politician using this as propaganda. For instance, MSM repeated tRump’s tweet regarding the Carrier deal (ignoring how he exaggerated the number of saved jobs and how he obtained the deal with a huge “bribe”) and takes a poll to demonstrate the popularity of the deal, then a politician uses the poll to declare success.
- Note: Washington Post has created an application to allow users to fact-check tRump’s tweets (you can also follow @realDonaldCntxt on twitter)
- Note: Facebook will soon be fact-checking news stories and identifying that don’t measure up
- In the meantime, you can take action now to flag “fake news” stories (see: https://www.buzzfeed.com/craigsilverman/heres-how-to-report-fake-news-on-facebook?utm_term=.djeLqYb57#.se1dpwN1E)
- Note: Malware is being planted in “fake news” articles so that hackers can access the personal data of the readers and then use this data to direct propaganda programs (on micro-targeting propaganda like via Cambridge Analytica, for instance, see http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/04/politics/donald-trump-political-ads-cambridge-analytica/)
- Also see:
9 Remember that #RESISTANCE means something different to everyone. The Tea Party was successful because it focused on one thing: Saying ‘No’ to Democrats. For the most part, it ignored divisive policy issues (see https://www.indivisibleguide.com/web). People who seem like they’re on your side may disagree with you now and then. You’ll have to decide for yourself how much dissent you’re comfortable with. For instance,
- Personally, I’m perfectly fine with having GOP members @Evan_McMullin and @JWGOP on my side when it comes to challenging tRump. I’ll happily retweet the hell out of them and I won’t send them snide tweets pointing out that the GOP is the reason that we’re in this mess in the first place. (Note: I do send tweets saying just that, but not to [temporary] allies in the GOP.)
- Some critics of tRump continue to fight about whether or not Bernie Sanders could have beaten tRump and/or should have been run on the Democratic ticket. I try to avoid this fight, but I can see why some people think that issues like this need to be settled before they can move on. It’s a personal decision about whether or not to engage in this debate.
- I was criticized by fellow critics of tRump because I complained about a sexist tweet sent by Politico about Hillary Clinton. I was told that I was distracting everyone from the problems posed by tRump himself. I disagree (I think that 1. The sexism that led to the election of an admitted sexual assailant is part and parcel of what I’m fighting, and 2. I would’ve said the same thing if the woman Politicus was focusing on happened to be a Republican), but I understand the concerns about our priorities (see below).
- Nevertheless, instead of tearing our allies down, consider leading by example. Behave on social media the way you want other people to behave.
10 Go on the offensive with tRump supporters/MSM – You’d be perfectly justified in using social media solely for mobilization (see #11 below), but there’s a strong argument for using it to go on the offensive. This includes:
- Criticizing MSM for biased, faulty reporting – Tweet a correction to a misleading headline or critiquing the disproportionate attention paid to certain issues
- Seeking out tRump supporters who may be open to persuasion
- If a Twitter user only has pro-Russian tweets and only a few followers, they’re probably a paid “troll” and not worth your time
- Alternatively, a user with a huge number of followers is likely to ignore anything that you might send
- But now and then you may find a tRump supporter who’s open to persuasion
- Shaming tRump supporters – There’s a reason tRump supporters don’t like being called racists or Neo-Nazis. They know it’s bad.
- We’re being encouraged to take the “high road” and to try and find some common ground with the white working class that supposedly won the election for tRump. This has a limited value (that I’ll discuss below), but there’s a very good case for going low. “Calling for unity, through taking the ‘high road,’ with those who are bent on our destruction is not unity, but a request for those who suffer to disappear into the power of their oppressors.” See Why ‘Taking the High Road’ Won’t Save Us and Maybe a Little Shade Will)
- Debating tRump supporters – America has become so polarized that there’s a good chance that debate is pointless. But insofar as it might have a chance of succeeding, this is when you want to look like you’re “identifying” with tRump supporters:
- Try these steps:
- Agree with the tRump supporter about whatever aspect of his/her message seems valid. For instance, if they are calling for a wall between Mexico and the USA, respond by agreeing that a lack of jobs is a problem
- Tell a personal story – Describe how an immigrant (you or someone else) came to this country seeking a better life. Propaganda is more effective when it is emotional. In fact, people are more likely to be persuaded by a personal story then cold dry facts. Persuasion is more effective when people can identify with the actors in a story. Storytelling works (see http://melissaagnes.com/war-of-ideas-how-to-fight-and-win-on-the-social-media-front-part-3/).
- Ask the tRump supporter would feel if he/she were that person
- Let the tRump supporter figure it out for him/herself – This way, the tRump supporter avoids the feeling of shame associated with being proven wrong. They will be more willing to accept a conclusion that they come to on their own.
- Or try these steps:
- Agree with the tRump supporter about whatever aspect of his/her message seems valid. For instance, if they are repeating the bogus claim about Obamacare driving up the price of health insurance, respond by agreeing that insurance is too high.
- Deflect by saying, isn’t the real problem the health insurance companies? Remind the tRump supporter how much money insurance CEOs make off of users.
- Start sharing details – Share information about the low cost of overhead for Obamacare versus free market health insurance. Remind tRump supporters that Obamacare is the same thing as ACA
- Resist deflection – tRump supporters will try to distract you with arguments about Sanders and/or Hillary Clinton. Remind the tRump supporters that you’re talking about tRump because he’s the president. If a tRump supporter refuses to stay on topic, ask why they don’t want to talk about tRump.
- Ask the tRump supporter what he/she knows about tRump/GOP’s history. Get the supporter to voice the history of criminal/immoral behavior him/herself (see http://fusion.net/story/308145/how-to-convince-friends-not-to-vote-trump-cult-deprogrammer/ and https://www.indivisibleguide.com/web)
- Use language tRump supporters will respond to (see http://fusion.net/story/308145/how-to-convince-friends-not-to-vote-trump-cult-deprogrammer/ and https://www.indivisibleguide.com/web)
- When speaking to Christians, for instance, use language that will resonate with them. Calling a repeal of Medicare immoral may not work, whereas pointing out that Jesus didn’t worry about creating “dependencies” among the poor might work.
- Avoid using MSM sources since tRump supporters are suspicious of these. Personal testimonials on Facebook or YouTube channels might be more effective in these cases.
- Avoid the use of easily recognizable anti-tRump/anti-GOP slogans – Use of these slogans will undermine your credibility with tRump supporters and they’ll stop listening to you
- Don’t shame them. Note this is the opposite of the shaming technique mentioned above. – Calling a person a “racist” may ensure that he/she stops listening to you.
- Identify famous individuals who have criticized tRump but remain individuals that the tRump supporter admires – A “big name” might be more influential with a tRump supporter than just an average Joe. Remember: tRump is just a reality tv star.
- Try these steps:
- Set alarms on Google, Twitter, etc so that you’re notified when an issue/person you’re interested in makes news
- Be the first to respond in Comments/Replies to news stories (on Fox, for instance) that is biased – this will break up the “echo chamber”
- Follow news/friends/followers to stay up-to-date when you need to contact your representatives/sign a petition/boycott a business, etc.
- Remember a phone call to your representative is far more effective than a tweet or an email.
- Tell your followers/friends to take action as well
- Use hashtags in Twitter to make certain issues gain visibility. For instance, use #TrumpLeaks to draw attention to tRump’s conflict of interests with Russia. You can use this hashtag even when the content of your tweet has nothing to do with this issue.
- Pressure companies advertising with the Neo-Nazi publication Breitbart to cease doing so (Thus far, 400 companies have agreed to remove their ads from Breitbart. Right now Sleeping Giants isn’t advocating boycotts, but you can personally choose to boycott the companies that have explicitly refused to remove their ads [such as Zales])
- On Twitter, follow Sleeping Giants (@slpng_giants), screenshot a company’s ad on Breitbart, then tweet the company (tagging @slpng_giants) politely asking them to cease supporting a Neo-Nazi website.
- On Facebook, follow https://www.facebook.com/slpnggiants and follow instructions for getting in touch with companies.
12 Use humor – In addition to watching Saturday Night Live spoofs of tRump, follow the Onion and anti-tRump comedians
- This will boost your morale when you’re feeling overwhelmed by the struggle
- Humor may actually be more persuasive with cynical tRump supporters than straightforward debates—I’ve certainly laughed at a few pro-tRump jokes—and this can open up the door for a more meaningful exchange (see https://99waystofighttrump.com/)
- Satire is a form of protest – It mocks power and undermines the credibility of the people trying to exercise authority (see http://melissaagnes.com/war-of-ideas-how-to-fight-and-win-on-the-social-media-front-part-3/)
- Humor defuses tension – When surrounded by tRump supporters on social media (or around the dinner table) making outlandish accusations, throw out even more outlandish accusations: “don’t get mad, just make sure to “out-jackass” them.” When they start talking about the illegal immigrants who supposedly voted, say “Trump lost even bigger when you exclude the 7 million unicorns who voted for him!” (see https://99waystofighttrump.com/)
13 Prioritize – I personally think that success depends on a multipronged approach: Many people using different tactics to bring about positive change. So I choose to reply to BS Fox News stories just to break up the echo chamber, knowing very well that I’ll have to face disgusting replies from people trying to waste my time. But some of our allies would argue that replying to these stories (and paying attention to tRump’s tweets) is undermining our ability to respond to the real issues. You’ll have to make up your own mind about what to pay attention to, especially if you have limited time.