VILSECK, Germany – April Fool’s Day is a chance to prank family and friends. The public affairs section of the 2d Cavalry Regiment took the opportunity join the fun but to educate, as well.
On April 1, 2021, 2CR posted on its social media platforms that it changed its name from “Dragoons” to “Dragons.” The justification stated saving money on ink and paper and to address frustrations with autocorrect.
U.S. Army Sgt. LaShic Patterson, the regimental public affairs non-commissioned officer, designed the new patch and wrote the post.
“We targeted the emotion of our audience and made the story believable,” said Patterson. “These are common techniques you see in misinformation and disinformation campaigns.”
Misinformation and disinformation, often referred to as “fake news,” is when an entity intentionally spreads false or misleading information with malicious intent.
The intent behind the 2CR post was not malicious, but it demonstrated how quickly a post can spread. In less than six hours, it was shared more than one hundred times and received more engagement than any other post during 2021.
“Although some people were spreading the joke, others genuinely believed we were changing our name,” continued Patterson.
For a historic unit like 2CR, with a proud alumni base, it made several people on social media upset or excited.
“I was angry for the last hour and a half when I first read this,” said one user.
“BS it is a historical regimental crest. Let’s just erase more history…” continued another, despite several other commenters identifying the April Fool’s Day joke.
The regiment followed up with a post later that day to inform people about the joke.
“It was a lot of fun to read the comments, but we also wanted to take the opportunity to educate people we care about,” said Patterson. “We want to empower people with ways to identify if a post is fake news or not.”