CALIFORNIA, U.S. - As all eyes in America remain trained on the persistent anti-Trump protests spread across several cities and states - there’s a war unfolding in the virtual world that ...
• Days after Trump was elected president, #AssassinateTrump and #RapeMelania became popular Twitter trends
• An open war has been declared between anti-Trump and Trump supporters online
• Lack of moderation on social media is leading to cases of incitement of violence
CALIFORNIA, U.S. - As all eyes in America remain trained on the persistent anti-Trump protests spread across several cities and states - there’s a war unfolding in the virtual world that has shockingly remained unaddressed by law enforcement agencies.
Over the past five days of protests, several thousands of protesters made appearances holding placards and signs with a myriad of messages - some propagating ‘love and peace’ while others outrightly denouncing Trump as their president-elect.
A thousand people cheered as protesters yelled ‘Not My President - Not Our President’ and yet others called him a ‘Rapist’ to another uproar of applause - emotional crowds have failed to make peace with the decision and Trump supporters have been quick in pointing out the ‘double standards’ as those that are leading protests against the chosen president-elect now - were the same people who lashed out at him when he declared that he wouldn’t accept the election result if he didn’t win.
However, even as passionate protesters - brimming with anger and hatred - took to the streets - the roots of these united protests have been questioned by Trump supporters - many alleging that these were paid-protests.
Where hatred is born
In the process of trying to curb potentially violent protests - the law enforcement agencies in the country have remained suspiciously silent over the birth place of all these protests - the Social Media.
Case in point: Two trends on Twitter, that remained active for hours together - #AssassinateTrump and #RapeMelania.
In a world where terrorist organisations like ISIS are turning disgruntled followers with absolutely no history of crime - into mass murderers and suicide bombers with mere messages and promises of heaven - it is quite shocking that the increasingly volatile social media hatred that has split America into two parts is not being considered seriously.
U.S. authorities said over the weekend that they were probing a possible threat that might be lingering between the lines, amongst hundreds of thousands of tweets that were put up using the trend #AssassinateTrump.
Some of these tweets were straight forward, like the one by the CEO of San Diego-based cybersecurity firm PacketSled.
The CEO in question, Matt Harrigan had threatened to assassinate Trump with a rifle on social media. He said, “I’m going to kill the president. Elect,” following the threat with another statement, “Bring it secret service.”
After someone suggested Harrigan just needs to get high, he replied, “Nope, getting a sniper rifle and perching myself where it counts. Find a bedroom in the whitehouse that suits you m**********r. I’ll find you.”
Amidst widespread backlash, both online and offline, Harrigan issued an apology on Facebook. He said, “My recent facebook comment was intended to be a joke, in the context of a larger conversation, and only privately shared as such. Anyone who knows me, knows that I do not engage in this form of rhetoric with any level of seriousness and the comment most certainly does not represent my real personal views in any regard. I apologize if anything that I said was either taken seriously, was offensive, or caused any legitimate concern. Best Regards, Matt Harrigan.”
As tempers flared, triggered by Harrigan’s statement and his subsequent apology - PacketSled issued a statement that said, “PacketSled takes recent comments made by our CEO, seriously. Once we were made aware of these comments, we immediately reported this information to the secret service and will cooperate fully with any inquiries.”
The company even deleted Harrigan’s apology.
One user Mark Dice tweeted at Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and said, “A responsible CEO would post something about how your company is dealing with all these #AssassinateTrump threats.”
He added, “Or are you trying to fuel this insanity in hopes that someone actually tries to #AssassinateTrump, Jack? America wants to know.”
Another user pointed out, “Twitter lets #AssassinateTrump TREND but if Clinton won, they would automatically terminate your account if you tweeted #AssassinateClinton.”
Unfortunately, there were many issuing similar threats on killing Trump - but none were met with the same fate as Harrigan’s.
Some posts called for both Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence to be assassinated, while another user wrote that the "only" remaining question after the historic and polarizing election is who will "assassinate" Trump.
A user, Patrick Karlsson said, “I can see the Republican establishment hatching a plan to assassinate Trump to make Mike Pence president since Trump is so unpredictable.”
Another user joked, "My mom is talking about assassinate donald trump. watch out guy my white suburban mother is coming for you."
Yet another said, “If y’all wanna assassinate trump you gotta take pence out too.”
One user called ‘I stand with Trump!’ lashed out at Hillary Clinton on Twitter and tagging her in a tweet, said - “Your activists are hurting people. They are threatening to kill Donald Trump and what do you say about it? Nothing.”
Another user, Mary Montalvo claimed, “Anyone who has made threats to kill Donald Trump, our elected president should be in jail now. Why are they still living free? Double standards.”
According to laws, security agencies take death threats against political figures, especially the president of the United States very seriously - however, there’s been no statement or an indication from security agencies about dealing with this.
Meanwhile, Secret Service spokesperson Nicole Mainor merely said, “The Secret Service does not provide information regarding protective services.”
One user commented, “If something ever happens to @realDonaldTrump b/c of the stupid trend #AssassinateTrump, @twitter employees should be charged as an accessory.”
One tweet by Trump, following the election also led some supporters and protesters in the direction of a war that has led to several wild accusations online.
Trump said, “Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!"
Little did Trump realise that this tweet would open the floodgates, leading to a barrage of attacks on Clinton supporters. Many Trump supporters on Facebook and Twitter have attacked anti-Trump protesters as paid protesters, with some even posting images of advertisements allegedly from Craigslist - that apparently is calling for people to join the protests and get paid $15-$20 an hour. The credibility of such accusations still remains questionable, however.
#RapeMelania trends a day later
If this already wasn’t a problem to deal with - the next day, one user pointed out at a sign board being held by one of the anti-Trump protesters at a rally outside the president-elect's new hotel in the nation's capital that read ‘RapeMelania.’
The debate brought both the warring sides back into the battlefield, hurling insults and accusations at the other.
One user, Morgan Skipper said, “The fact that #rapemelania is trending on twitter makes liberals and Hillary supporters look demented, hypocritical, & cruel. Inexcusable.”
Another user, Allie Leppo said, “One day Dems are preaching against hate and ignorance the next day they're saying #RapeMelania and that our electoral system is unfair. Sad!”
Yet another accused, “By not speaking out against the riots, @HillaryClinton & @BarackObama are promoting the rape of the future first lady. #rapemelania.”
One wrote, “I'm at a loss for words that #rapemelania is trending. Society has hit an all time low.”
According to Twitter, it customises trending topics based on who users follow and where they are located.
Washington Post quoted Twitter as saying that “the phrase trended because people denounced it, not because people advocated sexual assault.”
In all this, several anti-Trump supporters have argued that a single protester does not represent all of them.