Saturday, December 17, 2016

FACEBOOK and Fake News

      I am a senior and I live in Tennessee.  An overwhelming number of my family, friends, and me are Republicans.  I am not surprised that the fake news that I receive ispredominantly Republican leaning.  In fact, I almost never receive fake news reports those who are Democrat leaning.  Most of it comes via email with some heavily biased set of statistics or story. 

     Few of my group use FACEBOOK, including me.  So, I never experienced issues in the press which FACEBOOK is receiving about it being a cesspool of fake news.  However, with virtually everyone having a FACEBOOK account, these reports are probably an accurate reflection of the population in general and can answer the question “Do Republicans tend to circulate more fake and misleading stories than Democrats?” 

     The bigger problem is -- the content of the email circulation most often is usually so obviously wrong that I question the intelligence level of the sender for forwarding it.  Some of the exchanges are clearly attempts to be funny.  I can usually single out those and let them pass, but I do not “chain” them to my address book.  Yah, I know.  I have no sense of humor, which one source once accused me for trash-canning his/her post. 

     Others are such distortions of what should be obvious reality that I feel compelled to fact-check the claims and give the referring author a chance to retract.  To which, some have actually sent out retractions, but that is a very rare occurrence.  Usually the senders challenge my references to the “truth” as biased against their proclivity. In these cases, I frequently get the retort, “that’s YOUR truth; not mine.” Strange, truth is usually true. 

     I avoid countering the fallacious email with references that are also suspected to be biased to minimize accusations of “your truth verses my truth.”

Nevertheless, my effort to find and share the real facts behind a seemingly popular bit of misguided “spin,” is seldom appreciated and most often elicits a disdainful retort. So most often, I just put my “delete” button to good use.  Likewise, most often, a couple of challenges to the validity of an email posts gets me removed from future posts.  No one seems to like their pet bias discredited.  The email writers appear to be less worried about the truth and more worried about establishing themselves in their gang.

    That brings me back to the topic for this rant – FACEBOOK “news”.  It’s the gang of gangs and is being widely accused of circulating the latest bit of popular “spin” disguised as “news reports”. They say they plan to hit their “delete” buttons big time and others, like me, have found the majority of the FACEBOOK problem to be Republican-leaning. Even though, the collection of “FACEBOOK friends” fairly reflect the demographic of the recent Presidential election.

Just how partisan is Facebook's fake news? We tested it - Far more spin and fake news is pushed at Trump supporters. By Mark Hachman Senior Editor, PCWorld, Nov 21, 2016

    Before everyone accuses me of confirmation bias, just read Hachman’s report and help me poke holes in his methodology. The key words are “Far more.”

    Here is what FACEBOOK is planning

Facebook enlists help from fact-checkers to fight fake news: Fabricated news stories will be evaluated by third-party fact-checking organizations and marked with a “disputed” tag in the News Feed.By Caitlin McGarry, Staff Writer, Macworld Dec 15, 2016

FACEBOOK plans to   

take user-reported posts and run them by four third-party fact-checking organizations that abide by Poynter’s International Fact Checking Code of Principles:,, Politifact, and ABC News. If those organizations determine that the story is fake, Facebook will mark it with a “disputed” tag.

     To my Republican readers, please don’t waste our time with the George Soros lie regarding and similar claims about the other fact-checkers that FACEBOOK plans to use.

Snopes receives funding from an undisclosed source. The source is undisclosed because Snopes refuses to disclose that source. The Democratic Alliance, a funding channel for uber-Leftist (Marxist) Billionaires (George Soros etc.), direct funds to an "Internet Propaganda Arm" pushing these views. The Democratic Alliance has been reported to instruct Fundees to not disclose their funding source.

      Will FACEBOOK actually succeed in their attempt to “clean up the act” of its members or is this tactic sufficient to get the worse of its offenders just to take their misrepresentations to alternate outlets, such as Twitter and YouTube? Unfortunately for this group, these organizations are also making plans to clean up the muck that emanates from their servers.  I guess that means more crap email circulations.

From: PV Sent: December 16, 2016

I've never believed Facebook serves as a forum for much good, unless it gets me more ride time with my biking friends.

If anything, Facebook testifies to the prophecy “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4 NASB

I value your attempt to add balance to the scales of communication justice with a researched perspective;however, I'm gravitating to  a different icon of morality than lady blind justice.  I either pull the pillow over my ears or follow the Eastern axiom embodied in the three monkeys, Mizaru, Kikazaru, and Iwazaru.

As long as we human beings hold ourselves to our own presumptuous, preconceived sense of truth and seek to deplore those with different beliefs we remain our own worst enemy.  Dialogue is our best divining rod. Mercy is our best medicine. Love is our only hope. Jesus is the best example of these three  I've studied to date.

Keep the faith and keep the ties that bind.

From:TB Sent: Friday, December 16, 2016 12:04 PM


From:DS Sent: Friday, December 16, 2016 12:04 PM

  Thanks for your effort to examine, understand and communicate news, research and opinion.   This is tough and time consuming.  Unfortunately you and those of us that appreciate and try to emulate this are in the tiny minority.  Most others don't even bother to read or listen to a piece different from their viewpoint...let alone take a few moments to consider its potential veracity.

From: DI Sent: December 16, 2016 4:14 PM

  Killing my previous email address due to incurable spoofing had the collateral result of removing me from Facebook messages (among several others) so I haven't been exposed to the FB "Fake News" matter so it hasn't been an issue for me.  I'm accustomed to Islamophobic and other forms of email fake/hate/ignorant emails so that isn't a major problem either; I can count on my sister . . . and/or . . .  to call me out on anything I forward that doesn't meet the Snopes test for credibility.
 What has got my dander up is the purveyors of "Factual News" consistently passing along pollster and talking head prognostications about Hillary's inevitable winning the Presidency over Trump; where the hell were the reality-checkers to call them out over that monumental blunder, eh?   Apparently even Obama was fooled into believing Hillary's inevitability based on his lame explanation for not taking prompt action against Putin's hacking and not so covert Trump support.
End of my rant.

From: BD Sent: December 17, 2016

Perhaps Fake News is a problem and if Facebook cleans theirs that will be good. Like you I seldom forward even things I find cute. They still have the stench of a chain letter promising all your desires will come true if you'll send it to five of your friends and you'll suffer the wrath of God that would make the trials of Job trivial if you trash it.  I don't challenge people's messages but commend you for doing so. The whole "All it takes for evil to triumph etc."

I visit Facebook causally about once a week, mostly to see the Weekday Rider posts escaped me. Sometimes one of the dozens of "Somebody you used to know pretty well tagged you in a post by someone else you used to know pretty well but haven't seen in decades." emails will tweak my interest.  Usually I can't find where I was ever involved and think, "The bastards got me again!"

I'm sure there was plenty of fake news somewhere in the trash in the margins but my eyes don't even stray there since a post insinuating that Mark Harmon had died and there would be no more new NCIS episodes enticed me to click a link that led me to an advertisement for feminine hygiene products. The real issue is, who the hell in their right mind would go to Facebook or any similar service for news? I don't trust the mainstream media either. Having lived amidst the Civil Rights movement and seen how wrong the national news frequently got things I had personally witnessed cured me of believing everything I saw or read. Why losing trust in mainstream media would make people more trusting of sources whose stock and trade is lying is a mystery.

Perhaps it's like my Cradle Catholic college roommate who lost faith in Catholicism but not his desire for there to be one true church. His Sunday morning service hopping and visitation cards had me awakened early Saturday morning by home missionaries for a year after he moved on.  Most of them (except those accursedly persistent Mormons) high tailed it when I told them I was a confirmed Southern Baptist. Southern Baptist believe in evangelizing by deeds or paying missionaries and have an unassailable conviction we already know God that makes us poor candidates for conversion. But I digress.

If the Average American's gullibility has sunk this low we have a much greater problem than fake news. I still think Trump's victory had more to do with with people's frustration with the way the world is going. They didn't care if the news was fake.  Perhaps in a couple of years they will. Let's hope there are still some relatively independent and impartial news sources around then.

No comments:

Post a Comment