"Black people do not hang themselves from trees."
Weeks after a black man was found hanged in an Atlanta park, social media was rife with theories surrounding the circumstances of his death. Some people called it a lynching; authorities deemed it suicide.
Twitter and Instagram were deluged with posts like that one after the body was discovered. #Piedmont Park Hanging started trending online.
The body in Atlanta's Piedmont Park was found the same week videos of police shootings of two black men in Louisiana and Minnesota went viral. The images of black men dying at the hands of law enforcement were quickly linked in online posts to the hanging. Users lamented what they saw as disregard for black lives.
Graphic videos of police shootings and arrests of black Americans in the past two years have triggered widespread protests, heightening tensions between police departments and African-Americans, who have long complained about excessive use of police force in their communities.
Against that backdrop, the internet's hyper-speed blurring of fact and speculation surrounding such incidents may be adding to unease among African-Americans and contributing to the erosion of confidence in government, academic experts said.