In an emotionally charged political climate, where actions taken against DACA recipients — individuals formerly protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy —have produced stories and videos of families being torn apart, a viral video is making the rounds.
The video, currently circulating on Facebook, is a slideshow purportedly showing “DACA recipients” wearing Mexican flags while burning an American flag. The problem? It’s a willful misrepresentation of the events depicted. It’s a fabrication designed to do one thing, and one thing only — play on the fear, anger and anxiety induced by current U.S. immigration issues.
The video is simple enough. It’s a single image with a text overlay that reads: “DACA RECIPIENTS DRAPED IN MEXICAN FLAGS BURN THE AMERICAN FLAG YET WANT AMNESTY???” Upbeat muzak plays in the background as the text scrolls and floats across the frame, ending with this call to action: “SHARE THIS IF YOU THINK THAT DACA IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL!”
The image shows a number of individuals involved in what appears to be a protest, some in hoods and masks and at least one who is draped in a Mexican flag. There are several flaming objects on the ground at their feet, with smoke rising from ashes. The final piece of the image is a graphic identifying an outfit calling itself USA Politics Daily News.
Let’s unpack this one piece at a time, shall we?
First thing’s first: The photo itself is legitimate. It hasn’t been manipulated or substantively altered. But, while the photo is legitimate, the context in which USA Politics Daily News places the image is anything but.
The objects being burned are piñatas — effigies of U.S. President Donald Trump, not American flags.There is no evidence of any kind that the individuals who appear in the image are, in fact, DACA participants. The original photograph was taken April 29, 2016, by El Tecolote newspaper photographer Gabriella Angotti-Jones during the California Republican Convention outside the Hyatt Regency hotel in Burlingame, California.
“A Trump piñata burns outside the California Republican Convention at the Hyatt Regency in Burlingame on April 29. Photo Gabriella Angotti-Jones,” reads the original caption appearing with the photo.
Angotti-Jones made no mention of DACA in the caption, nor did the May 2, 2016, El Tecolote article in which it appeared, titled “Trump visit to Bay Area meets with fierce resistance.” While racial tension figured prominently in the article, DACA was not specifically mentioned.
The video was posted to the USA Daily Politics News Facebook page Dec. 29, 2017. That Facebook page links directly to a website titled Proud Conservative at proudconservative.info, but the video does not appear on the Proud Conservative website.
The Proud Conservative website is not a news site. It’s conservative punditry, and that’s fine. It’s a little unnerving that it’s punditry that appears to try very hard to masquerade as news, but that’s another matter. What’s not fine is the willful misrepresentation of the image in furtherance of a political agenda.
My purpose here today is not to take a position on DACA, one way or the other. My purpose is to take a position on the dissemination of misinformation and disinformation that muddies the waters of our political discourse. When you share something without ensuring that what you wish to share is factually accurate, you harm that discourse and ultimately, you harm your cause.
The Ada News reached out to the Proud Conservative website for comment, but no reply was received.
I’ve said it before, and I am certain I’ll say it again: Stop sharing inflammatory pixels and just say what you meme. We’ll all be better off for it in the end, and you might even learn something along the way.
Contact Carl Lewis at (580) 310-7520, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.