Mark Zuckerberg is still having to defend his multi-billion dollar online social networking site, Facebook. This is mainly due to the alleged ‘fake’ news being circulated during the US Presidential elections this month. If we believe everything we read he is solely responsible for Clinton’s defeat and Trump’s election to the White House.
Do You Believe Everything You See and Read on Social Media?
Zuckerberg is agitated by these accusations, and to be honest I don’t blame him. It is ‘people’ not Facebook that can be thanked for perpetuating lies. I often hear people saying how much they hate Facebook, how intrusive it is, how mean people are, how it can ruin lives. Facebook isn’t to blame for any of those things. The blame, if you want to call it that, lies with those using it (sometimes after a late night and too many glasses of red wine). People share articles, videos, propaganda etc… without ever checking the facts. Some people say “it’s just so funny I have to share, doesn’t matter if it’s real or not”.
Maybe when you sign up to Facebook there should be a warning, some of the content you will see is not real. Including stuff posted by your friends and family, probably especially by them. How do the newspapers get away with it? When you consider the outright lies and propaganda circulated, especially in the run up to Brexit and the US elections. Is it those who read and believe what’s in the papers that circulate the rubbish on Facebook? Maybe Mark can save himself a few bob in court by spending the money to educate these people instead.
A few years ago The New York Times (NYT) posted an article, How do you know if what you read online is true? It was in the student opinion section and aimed at students aged 13 and over. It covered a few well known hoaxes of the time and begged the question of the difference between a hoax, deliberately trying to mislead people, and the type of stand up comedy we are used to where the lines between fact and fiction are blurred in order to make if funny and entertaining.
Ravi Somaiya and Leslie Kaufman were cited in the NYT as saying “If a story is viral, truth may be taking a beating”. This is where we come in. we need to educate people to use their brains. I wince when I see posts naming and shaming people going viral when we have no idea if the post is genuine, or if some disgruntled employee didn’t get the time off he asked for. Dangerous ground.
I try to avoid becoming the Facebook police, but every now and then I slip the odd link in the comments highlighting a post to be fake, I think if I do it that way and don’t just say “It’s a FAKE!” I have less risk of alienating myself. I would love to join the grammar police, but would like to keep the few friends and family I have left.
In conclusion, THINK before you share. If you need help you can always check with a few Facebook pages:
Dear Idiots – It’s Not True
Fact Checking Before Sharing
If you do believe everything you read then you will know that Jeremy Corbyn danced all the way from the Cenotaph to Trafalgar Square on Sunday. He mounted the Lions, scaled Nelson’s column, removed his own Y fronts, which he waved in the air shouting “Honey G has nothing on me!”
Feel free to share your experiences by commenting below.