Some Internet trolls with too much time on their hands are attempting to spread misinformation about the Freddie Gray protests and perpetuate ugly ideas about the riots and protests that have taken place in Baltimore in recent days.
Tweets using the hashtag #baltimorelootcrew have disseminated a series of bogus, out-of-context and otherwise inflammatory images -- like one of a destroyed KFC ... that's actually located in Pakistan. And was destroyed in 2012.
Or this user, whose hoax photo purports to show the "Baltimore Loot Crew," but is actually of some young people in England in 2011.
Or this tweet from Thursday that uses an image that dates back to at least 2011.
While looting indisputably did occur in the unrest that unfolded Monday in Baltimore, users of social media who spread misinformation cause their own special kind of harm. In a situation already fraught with tension and misunderstanding, these images represent a deliberate attempt to promote and isolate perceptions of the community as violent and unrepentantly criminal.
The reality is much more complicated, as groups of Baltimore residents often worked to protect stores from looters or stop the violence, cleaned up after the melee, and some have even turned themselves in to police.
Vice's Motherboard identifies several of the Twitter accounts posting fake photos as having associations with 8chan and GamerGate.
Meanwhile, a number of other Twitter users are attempting to counteract the misinformation with posts calling out the hoax.
As a recent Medium posts notes, a simple reverse image search on Google can help to identify misattributed images that get slipped into the steady stream of Twitter updates that tend to accompany protests. Alternet points out that a similar campaign, with a similar hashtag, was perpetuated in the wake of Superstorm Sandy in 2012.