Categories
Blog

How to avoid posting fake news on social media in 3 easy steps!

If you value truth, then you know as well as I do that it is important to curb sharing lies. Even partial ones! Fake or sensational news is possibly more engaging on social media than clickbait ads used to be. They are usually making money off of you from website ads or else they are trying to manipulate your beliefs.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Exodus 20:16 (ESV)

Here are 3 easy steps to avoid posting fake or sensational news on your social media accounts:

it’s so easy to click that share button or to copy and paste something

  1. STOP. Don’t post something simply because it confirms your personal beliefs. Just stop. The fancy term for this is “confirmation bias”. We all have done this (I’m guilty as charged!) and it’s so easy to click that share button or to copy and paste something. It requires self control to stop ourselves.
  2. VERIFY. Check if you can verify it from a primary source. Then corroborate it by checking for a second primary source that confirms the verified source’s claim. Then do due diligence by checking against any claims made to the contrary.
  3. DISCARD. If you cannot verify the source, discard the post automatically. If you cannot corroborate the source, use careful language to indicate you are quoting a primary source (and not making a statement of fact, since a fact has not been established). There is a difference between saying “he/she says this is X” and saying “this is X”, but even then, if the source is not truthful, you run the risk of spreading something not truthful.

Primary Sources

primary sources can still lie

What is a primary source? News sites and social media posts are not primary sources, unless a primary source directly posts on one of those platforms. For example, a YouTube video saying a politician wasn’t bullied is not a primary source. However, if that politician writes a guest article or a Twitter thread about their experience of being bullied, that is a primary source. At this point, it is up to your discretion of whether or not the primary source is truthful, because primary sources can still lie. This is why corroboration is also important.

Corroboration

What is corroboration? In short, it is someone reputable who was there or who read the information being claimed and is saying “I saw it too.”

For example, a Fox News or CNN article including a video snippet of Donald Trump saying something is not corroboration. Videos can be selectively edited by either of these news outlets to fit their respective agenda. Seeing an unedited video on C-SPAN, however, is a way to personally corroborate something Donald Trump said at a speech.

If a study observes evidence to the contrary, that is not conclusive.

Another example is if a friend or news site says something is or is not healthy for you. There are medical journals that document scientific studies in detail. If the claim has been verified by means of a double-blind study (which means there was an unbiased oversight of the test, thus a primary source plus corroboration) with a large study group, it is possibly a valid observation. If a study observes evidence to the contrary, that is not conclusive. If the study in question was not double blind and/or the study group is small or the study was short term, it is highly likely to be error prone. A library with database access to these studies is your friend.

How about you?

How much do you value the truth? Has a news source tried to fool you before? How about a meme page or a YouTube video? Did you find primary sources to the contrary? How did those you know who fell for Fake News respond when shown evidence to the contrary? Did they dig their heels in? Apologize but keep the fake post up? Remove the post? How much do they value the truth?

Categories
Blog

Social Media Outlook

Mark Zuckerberg has made what appears to be an about-face on his stance for user privacy. Given his company’s rather bold project to spy on users, this seems a surprising move to the casual observer. However, not losing more users would be a good reason to ambitiously change your company’s business model.

Regardless, I have several personal predictions about how social media will shift in the next 2-4 years. Many of these predictions assume that Mark is telling the truth:

  • I thought Twitter was going to die by 2016 or 2017. I was wrong. Twitter appears to have a second wind thanks to Donald Trump, artists, and software developers. However, if Twitter doesn’t add an edit button and enforce their own rules, their second wind may not last.
  • Instagram and WhatsApp will continue to grow.
  • Facebook is the new MySpace. It’s messy, convoluted, and low-EQ people have dumped a huge mess into this platform. Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp will be receiving more attention by Facebook going forward and will have cross-network messaging enabled in the next 2 years. WhatsApp users can talk to Instagram users, for example.
  • Social Media ads will become less effective for most vendors on Facebook proper. However, in-line ads and bot suggestions will continue to thrive on Messenger, and may expand to WhatsApp.
  • Ad targeting may become restrictive. I would be surprised if the strategy and algorithms didn’t dramatically change.
  • Blogging software and platforms, such as WordPress, will grow in popularity as people find ways to own their platform and data.
  • Search engine ads may see a resurgence.
  • A blockchain will arrive for rapid international money transfers over social media. It won’t stop there. Hopefully it will build on what the Brave browser is trying to do. It will reward users for seeing ads on social media platforms. Users will use awarded blockchain tokens to buy things and reward content creators directly. These tokens will be convertible to fungible money and/or Bitcoin.
  • Badguys will still find creative ways to do badguy things. Fake news will still spread because low-EQ or low-IQ people will still repost them. Foolish journalists and politicians alike will still blame Facebook for those problems.

What do you think? You think social media will be taking some interesting steps forward, or not? Will we truly see positive changes for privacy on social media?