Stop Sharing Fake Shit on Social Media
In the modern day “Internet of Things”, there’s a lot of good and bad. You can find websites that will sell you an armoured personnel carrier with no questions asked, outlets that will send shit to someone anonymously and even places that will send anyone you want a bag of dicks (Penis shaped candy, but still.). However, the one thing I can’t stand is fake info on social media sites.
If you have a Facebook or Twitter account, you’ve probably seen some of what I’m talking about. Some popular Liberal or Conservative commentator whips up a quick info graphic and shares it with their network of followers (Neglecting to mention the broader facts that distort the claims made in their picture of course.). Soon, it is spread to news feeds all over the earth. One recent example of this hideous trend is fake images surrounding the European refugee crisis.
This picture was shared by the English Defense League. A fascist street protest organization in England that has been active since 2009. In the post, their social media manager makes the claim that these decidedly burly men are refugees from the current crisis and don’t fit the image of the starving and suffering people that legitimate media organizations have previously reported on.
What they neglected to mention is that the picture is two years old and was taken in Australia on Christmas Island. Though it’s hard to make out, the yellow wording on the uniform clearly identifies the man wearing gloves as a member of Australian Customs & Border Protection.
Sadly, the present crisis is not the sole example of such digital propaganda. Though many rabidly ideological groups disseminate false info to suit their own ends and draw in more supporters, there are others who produce false content simply to fuck with unsuspecting people online. The King Daddy of these is National Report. At first glance, their site seems legitimate, but it is not. All the stories are false and in the past, they’ve been able to fool supposed media professionals.
In 2013, Fox News personality Anna Kooiman erroneously claimed that President Obama was funding a Museum of Muslim Culture in D.C. out of his own pocket during the government shutdown. Ms. Kooiman was corrected by producers and later gave an on air correction.
In 2014, National Report went all out and published a fake report that an entire town in Texas was quarantined due to a family testing positive for Ebola. Though the story was debunked, the false claim received double the shares on Facebook as claims that were actually truthful.
In our digital era, we must be careful about what we read about online. Though the era of government propaganda posters is long gone, similar trickery lives on in Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and other sites where people congregate and read about the daily events in the world. If you see a story or image on your newsfeed, research! Don’t immediately click the share button.
For tools that can help you assess if a story is a hoax, please check out this article on Gizmodo. It’s full of all sorts of nifty tips and tricks to help people like you discover the actual truth.