hashtag hijacking

Dissecting a black ops operation (and how #epalwatch was abused)

Social media has become the new arena for black operations (or black ops, for short).

Wikipedia defines a black operation this way:

“…a covert operation by a government, a government agency, or a military organization. This can include activities by private companies or groups. Key features of a black operation are that it is clandestine, it has negative overtones, and it is not attributable to the organization carrying it out. The main difference between a black operation and one that is merely clandestine is that a black operation involves a significant degree of deception, to conceal who is behind it or to make it appear that some other entity is responsible (“false flag” operations).”

I have heard and seen examples of black ops, here and abroad. But instead of wading in the fray and getting personally involved, I normally would prefer the educational route — educating netizens about black ops and trolling in workshops on digital citizenship.

But not this time. Not when a very important pillar of citizen advocacy is used to bash a brand, hoping to bring it to its knees. I am talking specifically about the hashtag #epalwatch and how it has recently been used AND ABUSED by a group of black ops accounts.

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