In an example of how social media has largely replaced conventional news in our time, a video of an Australian teen egging Australian senator Fraser Anning went viral this past week. The teen was allegedly outraged by the senator’s reaction to the Christchurch, New Zealand mass shooting.
Anning had released a statement Friday calling Islam “the religious equivalent of fascism,” and blaming immigration policies for the attack.
The video shows the teen approaching Anning while he is speaking to reporters and hitting him on the back of the head with an egg while filming the whole thing with his phone. The senator responded by hurling around and punching the young man in the face. In the video, his aids surrounded the boy and not-so-gently subdued him.
In another video tweeted by an ABC News journalist, the teen, shown with black eyes and cradling his face, offers advice to others: “Don’t egg politicians, you get tackled by 30 bogans at the same time, I learnt the hard way…”
Facebook removed the video of the shooting just 12 minutes after the live broadcast.
“We removed the original Facebook Live video and hashed it so that other shares that are visually similar to that video are then detected and automatically removed from Facebook and Instagram,” said Facebook’s VP and deputy general counsel Chris Sonderby in a statement, “Some variants such as screen recordings were more difficult to detect, so we expanded to additional detection systems including the use of audio technology.”
Viewing the video was banned by New Zealand.
Alternative news sites such as Infowars, are saying the alleged shooting is actually a false flag event, designed to fuel pro-Muslim sentiments. If you have had a chance to see the footage, you may conclude that the video does seem to lack the expected blood and terror. But Infowars and Anning’s far right leaning, bigoted statements, seem contrived as well.
The story is being played out on social media like so much of the clownery we are being presented with and have grown accustomed to these days.
In a day where social media often reaches people before the news media, it is a challenge to sort out truth from falsehood. With concentration of ownership and increasingly polarized views, more people are distrustful of mainstream media today. Certainly, the MSM has the ability to stage events, as portrayed in the 1997 movie “Wag the Dog.”
But at the same time, every person with a cell phone is a reporter today. Anyone can shoot a video, upload it, and present it as factual. The responsibility to decipher the unending streams of information falls squarely on shoulders of the individual.
An increased awareness of political agendas is a must in this day of citizen journalism. In attempting to raise that awareness, questions to ask might include,
“Which stories are being considered news worthy at the expense of others?” For example, the news media has been silent on the massacre of over 100 people in Nigeria this year. Another question might be how the news story serves an extreme political view, such as far right or left leaning politics, censorship or gun control. Another approach takes a bit of effort, but “follow the money” is always a good rule of thumb.
Like it or not, the new world of social media requires that we all take a more active role in responsibly filtering through what we read in order to find truth through all the bias.