Since December 18, 2021, the edition of MSNBC’s American Voices with Alicia Menendez
ALICIA MENENDEZ (ANCHOR): Do you have any idea – does Media Matters have any idea where these hoaxes come from? And you know, we’ve been talking about the accountability of the media, how we have to talk about it, how much attention we give it or not. What do media consumers need to know?
ANGELO CARUSONE (PRESIDENT, MEDIA MATTERS FOR AMERICA): I think the most important thing to know is that, especially in this context, this is the third big we’ve seen this year so far that comes from TikTok. So now I think we have two lessons here. The first is that we should have improved in this area, all of us, to identify this early on and not step it up and amplify it afterwards.
And two that it will continue. And your question about where it starts is not clear. I think Malcolm gave a few kinds of ideas that can snowball and replicate, but they also demonstrate a deeper vulnerability, which is that the platforms didn’t put any friction in the system to slow it down. its spread. That the authorities – in this case the school districts, but in the past it was the teachers in the schools, they were the ones who validated the slap in the face of a teacher hoax. So all these county officials were sending this thing about a video that never existed. There was no TikTok challenge to slap your teacher. But they were all issuing warnings and a preemptive defense against something that was not there.
And in April – and there were real threats from that one – there was a similar, almost exact mirror image of what we saw called National Rape Day on TikTok, where the top 50 videos, a total of 48 million views in a short period of time, said rape was legal for a day and women should defend themselves and arm themselves in all public places they go.
And we saw students at that time bringing knives and weapons to schools because they thought we were going to be raped because of it. And it was exactly the same. There was actually no original video that could ever be identified that started it. And in fact, the culprit seems to be some really concerned people who sort of heard a rumor or found it somewhere, started making videos about it, and then it got replicated, amplified and, worse yet, validated by existing reliable sources.