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[Slashdot] - Social Media Becomes Battleground Over Days of Street Protests

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Social media has become a central battleground for the protests across the U.S., with tech platforms amplifying tensions while also providing a real-time chronicle of the riots and police responses that might not have otherwise gained widespread attention. From a report: A lone video of the violent arrest that led to the death of George Floyd posted last Monday on Facebook by a bystander, Darnella Frazier, has been shared by 52,000 people there and found its way to Twitter, Instagram and other social platforms, widening awareness of the episode. Since then, those outlets have been a tool to spread dissent and anger by those upset at Mr. Floyd's death and those disturbed by the sometimes violent actions of both protesters and police in cities across the country. Social media played a critical role in galvanizing the protesters through the quickly shared video around Mr. Floyd's arrest, said Alex Stamos, director of Stanford University's Internet Observatory. "It nationalizes local issues like this," he said, adding that "maybe 20 years ago this might have only been covered at the local press." The unrest also has fueled an online battle over how they are viewed, said Nathaniel Persily, a Stanford law professor and co-director of the California university's Cyber Policy Center, said the riots also have turned into an online battle of opposing viewpoints. "There is a fight on social media as to how to portray the events on the ground," he said. In some cases, distortions are fanning the anger. One photo pairing widely shared last week purported to show Derek Chauvin, the police officer who knelt on Mr. Floyd's neck during the fatal arrest, having previously worn a red cap resembling those favored at President Trump's rallies but with the slogan "Make Whites Great Again." Twitter slapped a label saying "Manipulated media" on tweets containing the photos -- including one from the rapper Ice Cube that has been liked more than 148,000 times -- taking users to a post where it said several photos purporting to show Mr. Chauvin were of other people.

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