Turmoil, vilification, and falsehoods, continue to shape the political climate in the United States. On Wednesday, the latest instance of "fake news" sparked a real online controversy, putting an innocent editor in the middle of an online firing squad.
It started when a Twitter video surfaced of what appeared to be a woman taking pictures of Rex Tillerson's notes during his Senate confirmation hearing.
Who is this woman and why is she secretly snapping photos of Rex Tillerson's notes? pic.twitter.com/u3WXM3XHCA
— America First! (@America_1st_) January 12, 2017
Naturally, the video spread like wildfire, leading to a witch hunt into who this person could have been — without context into who the woman in the video was, or why she may or may not have been taking these pictures in the first place.
But, before that information could even be brought to reasonable and proper questioning, trolls and right-wing vigilantes already determined that the culprit must meet her fate with justice. Both the video and the narrative continued to circulate like a game of telephone, eventually giving the criminal in question an identity. A fake identity.
Doris Truong, a homepage editor at The Washington Post who was not at the confirmation hearing on Wednesday, was accused of being the woman in the video. This conclusion was made only because Truong is both a woman, and of Asian descent. The story eventually made its way to right-wing websites like the Gateway Pundit, who purported the headline "Wow! Reporter Caught Sneaking Photos of Rex Tillerson's Notes at Senate Hearing (Video)."
Truong says she was bombarded with messages and attacks across all of her social media pages by people who demanded that she answer for her actions, without even giving her the opportunity to defend herself. Those who anger the masses are presumed to be guilty, until they can prove their innocence — laying the groundwork for a grave standard. Even with the help of her colleagues Truong's defense of herself had little impact, noting that only a few had admit their blunders, while others insisted the narrative be accurate.
We ran facial software on the video we are almost positive its Truong !!
— ⏰0⏰ (@_0Hour1__) January 12, 2017
Naturally, Sarah Palin was involved, too:
Strikes me as creepy - reporter snooping & sneaking pics of Trump Cabinet nominee's notes today during... https://t.co/3h5uZFie6h
— Sarah Palin (@SarahPalinUSA) January 12, 2017
Truong handled the situation well, noting:
The whole episode is not going to drive me off social media, which provides a way for me to connect with people across the miles, including strangers, and to be exposed to a diversity of opinions — including ones I disagree with. But I hope the ridiculousness of what happened to me in less than 12 hours makes others think critically before sharing something that can be easily disproved.