Over the weekend, images of the White House’s Pride Month display went viral on social media—with many claiming that it violated the United States Flag Code. It also happened just before Flag Day on Wednesday.
This day commemorates that the Second Continental Congress adopted the American flag on June 14th, 1777.
Claims Of Flag Code Violation
Joe Biden posted a message on social media celebrating the LGBT community. The flags that were displayed from the White House, facing South Lawn, were also revealed. The display consisted of a Pride flag in rainbow colors flanked by American flags, at an LGBT event featuring performers and speakers.
Social media users quickly responded, claiming that the White House violated U.S. law. Section 7(e) of the Flag Code requires the American national flag to appear at the centre of any display that includes multiple pennants and flags.
Flag Code Section: “The United States of America flag should be placed at the centre and highest point of a group of State or Local flags or pennants of Societies that are displayed on staffs.”
Roger Marshall, R-Kansas Senator, tweeted about the White House display. Flag Code. Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton, who is the president of Judicial Watch on Facebook, also said that the White House was in violation of Flag Code.
What is the context of an argument that lacks substance?
There was a lack of context in many social media debates.
Even though tens of thousands on social media claimed the White House was in violation of the U.S. Flag Code, a large number of other users were equally quick to point out that a U.S. flag was flying atop the White House—suggesting that the display did in fact adhere to the U.S. flag code.
In the original images that circulated on social media, the U.S. flag flying over the White House was cropped out—either by accident or design. Either way, this certainly alters the context as the U.S. national flag was displayed at its highest point.
Some people on social networks brought up that U.S. The Flag Code Section 10 states that “Any rule, custom, or regulation pertaining to the display of the United States flag, as set forth herein may be modified, repealed or altered by the commander in chief of the Armed Forces of the United States whenever he considers it appropriate or desirable.”
Joe Biden, as president of the United States and commander in chief of the Armed Forces of the United States was entitled to use the flags he deemed appropriate for the event on Saturday.
Misunderstanding Or Disinformation?
It is a sign of how context in online discussion often goes missing. This could either be misinformation, where vital facts are not included in the discussion. Or it can be done to intentionally deceive an audience.
Lon Safko is the author of “The Art of Deception” and a technology entrepreneur. He warned: Social Media Bible.
Recently, misinformation has been ranked as the number one concern of corporations, advertisers, journalists and marketers. “It’s simple and very effective,” Safko said.
Safko explained that the advancements in artificial intelligence would make the disinformation campaign more powerful.
He said that new AI platforms, such as MidJourney and Runway (as well as VEED, ChatGPT or Bard), can make any video, image, or animation look incredibly real. Even Photoshop, which is the father of all photo-editing software now has an AI tool to add almost any element.