Social Media’s Coverage of the Death of George Floyd

On Monday, May 25, 2020, George Floyd was taken into police custody in Minneapolis for allegedly using counterfeit bills to purchase cigarettes. While in custody, one of the officers, Derek Chauvin, pinned Floyd to the ground and dug his knee into Floyd’s neck. In Video of the incident, which I first saw on ABC 7 NY, Floyd could be heard saying he could not breathe, and a short time later, he died.

Social media blew up when the video made its rounds. Friends were posting how disgusted they were with the incident and how fed up they were with police officers overstepping their authority. The same morning on ABC, a video of a woman in Central Park in NYC surfaced. In the video, the woman was threatening an African American man by calling the police saying he was assaulting her. The man told her go ahead. When police arrived, the man showed them the video and he could leave. Later that day, the woman was let go from her position with a finance firm she worked for.

Two incidents reported on the same day, one out of the two ended horrifically while the other may have ended just as bad had there not been video of the incident. I chose to follow the Floyd case on social media.

While several friends were posting their feelings about what happened to Floyd, I chose to follow the Associated Press since it is a legitimate news source.

AP first reported the incident on 5/26. On 5/27, they started the day by posting five things in the news that people should know, that were not related to COVID-19. The image that the wire service used was of people protesting the police in support of Floyd.

As protests erupted across the country, both Facebook and Twitter were flooded with images of buildings on fire, lines of riot police, people looting stores and others protesting peacefully.

I tried to keep with the legitimate news sources as much as possible to keep feelings out of the way.

Then, a friend of mine who works at NBC posted a tweet from President Donald Trump that read, “These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Waltz and told him that the military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control, but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

As a result, Twitter said, “This tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”

Social media giant Twitter took a stance this week to filter out fake news as much as possible.

The coverage I chose to follow was factual and did not include opinions, though several were included in the comments. Using social media to tell the story allowed things to be reported as they were happening, particularly with the protests that occurred, and are continuing to occur.

While I chose to follow AP regarding the topic, just about every publication I follow, including ABC7, CNN, Fox News, NBC, and the New York Times all covered the death of Floyd and the protests.

Between Twitter and Facebook, I preferred to follow the events on Twitter because the posts were shorter, and the organization of stories read much cleaner.

I consume news several ways, whether it is reading the New York Times in digital format, watching ABC News, or scrolling through my social media feed. Call me old school but watching it on television live was the best method for me. But when I combined watching the news with reading my Twitter feed and what AP was reporting, my experience seemed to become super enhanced.

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