A very popular and recent story, “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett has been charged with a felony for allegedly filing a false police report after claiming that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic hate crime. Quick recap: Jussie reported to Chicago PD that he was attacked by two men wearing red “MAGA” hats who poured bleach on him and put a noose around his neck, while also yelling derogatory terms. The two men who attacked him confessed that it was staged, and that they were paid $3,500 for it.
“Empire” has since pulled Smollett from the show.
This has clearly stirred up a lot of attention on social media. People are angry, confused, hurt, shocked and a mix of other emotions. When stories this large and powerful are released, social media users do not shy away from joining the conversation. On one hand, social media is beneficial to quickly check the latest news and learn facts about the story. On the other hand, it is almost impossible to keep up with all that is said, and especially difficult to decipher what is true and false.
As I was scrolling through the related tweets, one stood out to me.
It was very interesting to me that through the emotional reactions of people reading about this story, it brought up this topic. Skimming through the article, the Kentucky State University professor stated that he himself found 409 confirmed hate hoaxes, while two of his colleagues also found 348 and over 300 respectively. He offers that “hate hoaxers” perform these acts for financial and showy reasons, but also to call attention to real racist violence, especially on college campuses. He follows up that it only worsens race relations and that inter-racial crime is actually rare.
The tweet gained a decent amount of buzz, which leads me to think those people also read the article of the professor’s findings. Are hate hoaxes something that we will continue to learn about? In a time where there is so much “fake news”, will we be able to weed through the threads and find these type of sources that attempt to provide education about hot topics?