Left-wing activists and social media users harassed and publicly shamed an innocent man because he bore a resemblance to one of the far-right attendees of the Charlottesville, Va. rally Saturday.
The amateur anti-fascist Internet detectives and accounts scoured over images of the rally and tried to put names to faces, the New York Times reported. One popular account called "Yes You're Racist" is run by the communications director for the liberal Progress NC Action.
Prominent celebrities like actress Jennifer Lawrence also publicly backed their efforts.
One demonstrator was pictured wearing an "Arkansas Engineering" shirt. Starting from there, activists checked the University of Arkansas' faculty pages, found a professor with a similar build and facial hair, and went to work.
"[Kyle 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," the Times reported. "Countless people he had never met demanded he lose his job, accused him of racism, and posted his home address on social networks."
In reality, Quinn was not even in Virginia at the time.
"You have celebrities and hundreds of people doing no research online, not checking facts," Quinn said. But the backlash was so fierce, he and his wife stayed at a friend's out of fear for their safety.
One Arkansas man who did not know Quinn personally spoke out on social media, and urged restraint until the University of Arkansas confirmed his identity. Some listened, but he told the Times that others "adamantly refused to change their minds."
In another incident, the Yes You're Racist account accused a YouTuber named Joey Salads of wearing a Nazi armband at the Charlottesville rally. In reality, the image was of an earlier "social experiment" in which Salads worse the armband to prove everyday Donald Trump supporters would reject a white supremacist in their midst.
— Joey Salads (@JoeySalads) August 13, 2017
Yes You're Racist apologized. But despite his protestations, the "anti-fascists" continued to accuse Salads of lying.
Oh really? If the nazi armband fits… Fuck your "experiments"
— INSTA: Henrytado (@Henrytado) August 13, 2017
U claim you're in Jamaica… why didn't you drop your location fam? Lol #YouNeedMorePeopleWeDontBelieveYouNaziScum
— REAL DJ HOLLYGROVE (@DJ_HollyGrove) August 13, 2017