In addition to the woman killed and others injured at Charlottesville, two innocent people had their lives turned upside down by the online mob.
First, “alt-right” supporters (and even some mainstream conservatives) fingered the wrong guy as the owner/driver who mowed down demonstrators with his car:
Prominent alt-right media personalities and websites framed a Michigan man that one labeled an “anti-Trump druggie” for Saturday’s car attack on anti-racist protesters in Charlottesville, Va that killed one and injured 19 others.
Police said the suspect in the incident is 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. from Maumee, Ohio. That is not the name of the man identified by the websites Gateway Pundit and GotNews earlier in the day.
…readers flocked to the Facebook page of the Michigan man who was falsely accused of the homicide. Users finally began to slow the harassment on his page when he posted to Facebook several times while the suspect of the car attack was in custody.
The wrongly accused man has since set his Facebook page to private.
A man at the rally had been photographed wearing an “Arkansas Engineering” shirt, and the amateur investigators found a photo of Mr. Quinn that looked somewhat similar. They were both bearded and had similar builds.
By internet frenzy standards, that was proof enough.
Mr. Quinn, who runs a laboratory dedicated to wound-healing research, was quickly flooded with vulgar messages on Twitter and Instagram, he said in an interview on Monday. Countless people he had never met demanded he lose his job, accused him of racism and posted his home address on social networks.
Fearing for their safety, he and his wife stayed with a colleague this weekend.
People who then try to correct the record often feel drowned out by the false information.
Mark Popejoy, an art director in Bentonville, Ark., attempted to correct dozens of Twitter accounts that had inaccurately pegged Mr. Quinn as the Charlottesville rally participant. He would point out that the University of Arkansas had confirmed that Mr. Quinn was not involved, and ask that the Twitter users delete their erroneous tweets.
While some appreciated the new information, others adamantly refused to change their minds, he said in an interview on Monday. He said he didn’t know Mr. Quinn but sympathized with his position.
“While some appreciated the new information, others adamantly refused to change their minds” should be Twitter’s new motto.