‘Amy Hamilton’ Right Wing Racist Viral Hoax

This in the Independent today…

Missing ‘Amy Hamilton’ poster circulating on social media revealed as racist right-wing propaganda hoax

A poster appealing for help finding “missing” six-year-old girl Amy Hamilton has been shared thousands of times on social media – despite being a racist hoax by a right-wing propaganda group.

The fake appeal uses a painting taken from a Flickr account to represent the fictional little girl, and underneath it includes the message: “It is believed Amy has been kidnapped by an Asian grooming gang.”

The poster is the work of the right-wing group Britons against Left-Wing Extremism (Bale), and was first spread as if it were genuine by the organisation’s blog and social media accounts branded the Daily Bale.

Last year the Croydon Advertiser revealed that there was no Amy Hamilton, and that Daily Bale editor Steven Sodholmy believed he was “raising awareness… about the harsh reality of Asian grooming gangs”.

Yet that has not stopped the “missing” poster resurfacing, and this week it has been shared thousands of times on Twitter and Facebook.

One social media user who tweeted the image later wrote: “Turns out that pic was a hoax! I had no idea when I posted it!” He added that it was nonetheless “refreshing to see so many people care enough about someone they never met”.

Posting on at the weekend, Facebook user Chris Jopp said: “A friend shared this and I had to tell her it was a hoax.” Another, Lisa Charman, said: “Yep, I just got this hoax today in my newsfeed.”

When the fake appeal was first being shared, Daily Bale contributor Joshua Bonehill tweeted: “An amazing 5000 people shared our Amy Hamilton, Missing poster on Facebook. Lets (sic) hope they catch the Asians responsible for taking her.”

Mr Sodholmy said: “The poster and the 20,000 that shared it on Facebook were informed about the harsh reality of Asian grooming gangs that have been operating in the Croydon area of London now for some time.”

But Croydon police told the Advertiser: “These types of hoax appeals are, at best, extremely unhelpful and distasteful and can potentially divert public attention away from genuine appeals.

“We rely on the support of the public and media to help us when we release appeals to find our most vulnerable missing people.

“The support we get for these appeals is fantastic, but these hoaxes can really damage the effectiveness of genuine appeals.”

Read in The Independent

About Virality

Tony D. Sampson is Reader in Digital Culture and Communications at the University of East London. He has a PhD in social-cultural-digital contagion theory from the Sociology Department at the University of Essex. He is a former art student who re-entered higher education in the UK as a mature student in the mid-1990s after a long stint as a gigging musician. His career in education has moved through various disciplines and departments, including a maths and computing faculty, sociology department and school of digital media and design His publications include The Spam Book, coedited with Jussi Parikka (Hampton Press, 2009), Virality: Contagion Theory in the Age of Networks (University of Minnesota Press, 2012), The Assemblage Brain: Sense Making in Neuroculture (University of Minnesota Press, 2016), Affect and Social Media (Rowman and Littlefield, July 2018) and The Sleepwalker's Guide to Social Media (due 2020 with Polity Press). Tony is the organizer and host of the Affect and Social Media conferences in the UK (see archive on this blog). As a co-founder and co-director of the public engagement initiatives, Club Critical Theory (CCT) and the Cultural Engine Research Group (CERG), Tony has been project lead on a number of funded projects that bring impactful critical theories into the community and local political sphere to approach. These activities have included large conferences, symposia and informal lectures/workshops in pubs and community centres, co-organized with community groups and local authorities. Tony occasionally blogs at: https://viralcontagion.wordpress.com/ Full academic profile: https://www.uel.ac.uk/Staff/s/tony-sampson
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1 Response to ‘Amy Hamilton’ Right Wing Racist Viral Hoax

  1. May says:

    I nearly spat out my coffee when I read: “Daily Bale editor Steven Sodholmy” … seriously…those two names in the same sentence? Who takes those people seriously!?

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