Using the Life Cycle of Media Manipulation, each case study features a chronological description of a media manipulation event, which is filtered along specific variables such as tactics, targets, mitigation, outcomes, and keywords.
When a Trump ally claimed migrants were bringing Ebola into the US, fears of a deadly infectious disease furthered his crowdfunded quest to build a border wall with Mexico and fueled anti-immigrant sentiment. The 2019 Ebola rumor wasn't true, but that didn't stop it spreading in the far-right media ecosystem from Texas across the nation.
After Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez described her experience during the Capitol insurrection onInstagram Live, critics used hashtags and misinfographics to invalidate her account, resulting in a harassment campaign followed by community mitigation.
Following the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput on June 14, 2020, allegations were circulated by his family and fans that his girlfriend, Rhea Chakraborty, had murdered him. Although his death was officially declared a suicide, this media spectacle not only increased confusion and distrust of the investigations but led to the arrest and harassment of Chakraborty.
During the active crisis of the Parkland school shooting in February 2018, a photo misidentifying the alleged perpetrator moved from 4chan to the mainstream media when Infowars picked up the image, muddying the waters around the actual shooting. The misidentification led to targeted harassment of the individual in the photograph, who was not associated with the shooting.
In the spring of 2020, a viral slogan purporting that Muslims were purposely spreading COVID-19 in India was disseminated online using recontextualized videos. India’s ruling political party eventually adopted the term, allowing it to spread even further, leading to harassment before critical press and mitigation efforts by social media platforms dampened the campaign.