Is an Anti-Mask Protest Coming to a Street Near You?December 1, 2020
Conspiracy Theories Continue to Pose Great Threats to Society
The political lines that have emerged in North America as a result of COVID-19 have created endless problems for government officials and health authorities of all kinds. Anti-mask protests have emerged as a problematic response to public health guidelines that have been implemented to help stop the spread of the virus and keep the public safe.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has spurred a long list of conspiracy theories along with significant cases of lockdown fatigue, giving rise to everyday people protesting against both face mask regulations and social distancing measures. The result is a dangerous combination that puts public leaders and society at risk in both large cities and small towns across North America. These anti-mask protests are highly coordinated and attract swarms of people who are feeling the pressures of the pandemic.
Social Media Platforms are Fueling Anti-Mask Protests
Rolling lockdowns have, of course, strained the public’s patience and tested their will to remain isolated. Those who have grown tired of the implemented health measures against COVID-19 have gathered with like-minded individuals who share common views regarding the pandemic. Lockdowns have strained the public’s mental health, leaving them vulnerable to misinformation campaigns and conspiracy theories that are spreading online like wildfire.
Social media platforms have proven to be a breeding ground for misinformation, especially regarding anti-face mask conspiracy theories claiming that the pandemic isn’t even real. While some have taken steps to stop the spread of misinformation, the rise of these groups show a concerning trend in the distrust of mainstream science and news reporting that could lead to further sickness and death.
Those in charge of monitoring social platforms struggle to keep up with the swarm of misinformation flooding social feeds. In many instances, when conspiracy theorists are ousted from one social platform, they quickly take their followers to another platform with less restrictive measures. The results can mean major COVID outbreaks in small communities and aggressive protests that effectively waste the collective efforts of the general public and cause further spread of the virus.
Maintaining Order During an Anti-Mask Protest
Authorities have been challenged to maintain order while allowing for peaceful protesting that adheres to social distancing guidelines. Protests have broken out in many small towns and rural neighbourhoods, shutting down schools and other public services. Public health authorities and politicians alike have felt the wrath of these protests as conspiracy theorists gather and flout ongoing social distancing measures.
Many government authorities have been creative with their efforts to stop the spread of misinformation, partnering with social influencers and local celebrities to promote information rooted in science designed to help protect the public. Further, many government officials have reached out to social media platforms to help fight the spread of misinformation, moving to disband groups that are spreading conspiracy theories and ultimately hurting the general public. Government messaging tends not to move as quickly as information on social media, so authorities must act faster in order to combat problematic trends in society.
Anti-Mask Protests are Likely Just the Beginning
But when the time comes for society to embrace a vaccine, public officials can expect further conspiracy theories and protests tied to vaccination. These protests can come with extensive vandalism, property damage, and threats of violence. The rallies today are, unfortunately, just the beginning and a reflection of what is to come when the public needs to become vaccinated. Expect that these anti-mask protests will continue to grow and potentially turn violent if public officials don’t learn from the protests we are experiencing today.
Consider the Next Type of Protection Support and Threat Management
Staff that are required to enforce face mask and social distancing requirements could require in-person protection agents. These specialized agents are highly trained in mitigating threats from protestors or the general public. These types of agents often use de-escalation tactics to respond to challenging behaviour from protestors. Threats against public health and city officials continue to grow, and these services can be employed for general protection in public or the workspace, residential security, along with the physical monitoring of problematic individuals.
Corporations or government entities are encouraged to perform ongoing threat risk assessments and contingency planning if they could be a potential target for further protesting or political demonstrations.
Predict and Respond to Anti-Mask Protests with Social Listening Tools from AFIMAC
Those looking to protect both business and property should lean on the experience of security agencies specially trained in these types of protests. Physical security guards, access control systems, and protective drivers provided by AFIMAC are just some of the many tools government officials can use to protect their staff and public property during a protest.
AFIMAC provides social listening and investigative tools that can predict the rise of an anti-mask protest and help you respond accordingly. By offering full-service solutions to political unrest and spirited protests, AFIMAC can ensure that both your people and property remain protected during these kinds of demonstrations.
Contact us directly to learn more.