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What 11,000 Write-In Votes for Harambe Can Teach Us About Trusted News Sources

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at George Mason University chapter.

The night of Election 2016, Americans sat around their televisions anxiously waiting to see who would be leading our country for the next four years. But then, social media flooded with some bizarre news that we would have never expected — that Harambe, a gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo that was shot dead in May, received 11,000 write-in votes. Just when we thought Election 2016 could not get any weirder, apparently thousands of Americans had voted for a dead gorilla. 

This news fired up the Internet. People were angry. This became a representation for voters who “just threw their vote away.” It called into question the legitimacy and the effect of third party and write-in votes. Some people even blamed these voters for Trump’s victory.

But here’s the thing — Harambe didn’t actually get 11,000 write-in votes. That’s right, it’s all a myth. So how did this turn into national breaking news? 

It’s because we chose to believe it.

We live in an age where people read an article on Facebook, see a tweet, or scroll by a meme and take it as accurate news. We see something that surprises, take it for what it is, and we share it on our social media accounts or through actual personal discussion. We’ve become so consumed by instant news that we have stopped checking our facts before we hop on the latest ideology of our peers. False accusations, unreliable opinions, and apparently now satirical tweets spiral to become national news that we take as the truth.

Harambe’s role in Election 2016 was not a representation of third party or write-in voters, but a representation of our society’s lack of being properly informed before spreading news like wildfire. 

If people could simply take a break from these nonsensical arguments about the election results and take a minute to do their research, they would know that Harambe didn’t actually get the thousands of write-in votes. In fact, it would have been nearly impossible to have tallied the amount of write-in votes at the time this news came out. Did some morons write-in for Harambe on their ballots to get retweets? Probably. But the news that a dead gorilla got thousands of write-in votes on election night is just flat out wrong.

It’s time to break this habit. 

It’s time to stop treating the opinions of others on social media as fact. It’s time to stop spouting off random information based on the headline of an article we scrolled past. It’s time to become legitimate informed citizens, so we no longer have to argue over a dead gorilla and can focus on the real issues America is facing today.  

Photo credit: The Independent


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Juliane Veloso

George Mason University

Juliane is a Her Campus alumna. She started her time in HC as a Writer for HC George Mason. Her passion for HC led her to work on the National level as a Campus Expansion Assistant, Campus Correspondent, Chapter Advisor, and Viral Content Writer. Juliane is now a Digital Strategist for a Fortune 500 company. Follow her on Instagram: @julianemariev