I can’t speak for anyone else, but a couple of times now, I’ve had things I posted or shared on social media “fact checked” and found to be false
“What’s wrong with that?” You may be asking.
To begin with, I should make a disclaimer and say that nothing I’ve ever been the originator of, has been found to be “factually incorrect.” To be fair, the probable reason that’s the case, is that my current reach is typically less than a hundred folks in the best case.
Since what I write rarely makes its way very far from its origin at this point, I would expect it to be somewhat unlikely they would bother with me. Assuming things work as I would like them to, and my “audience” grows, I can imagine a different outcome.
I’ve said before, there are a number of folks to whom I pay attention, all of them have many more followers than me.
Without exception, each has had content checked for accuracy, and has been told there were incorrect statements in something posted or shared. In just about every case, they were able to explain why the people looking to make sure their content wasn’t full of garbage, were wrong in their analysis.
In one case of which I’m aware, a statement was made that was true at some point, but the person about whom it was made in that case, reversed his position. That turnabout, made one small piece of the information technically incorrect.
In the end though, my interest is in seeing what folks say, or share, and deciding for myself what I think about it.
Put simply, I don’t need my disapproving, heavily left-leaning aunt, telling me what I should be looking at on the Internet.
There’s a reality of life. Even the most conscientious person will occasional post something on social media that at least has elements of fabrication. They may not do it intentionally. Then again, they might.
That said, watching what anybody I monitor says and does helps me to know who the person in question is.
Part of that process is finding instances where a given individual isn’t entirely accurate in what they’ve posted.
That’s not something I can do if I don’t have access to the things they say in which there are issues or questions of accuracy.
When somebody says something that looks questionable to me, if I care about it at all, I generally have ways to confirm its validity. If I don’t care, I don’t bother.
Sometimes I can’t find answers as to whether or not something reflects reality. Though that’s the case, I also don’t necessarily take what’s being put out there as gospel either.
So I already often either check or know, that what they’re saying is or isn’t true in whole or in part. That’s assuming again, that I care.
It’s important to understand though, that I typically want to see when someone I deal with says things that aren’t entirely on the up and up. There are at least three reasons for this.
To begin with, it helps me to know their biases. It’s not quite invariably the case, that when somebody says something questionable on purpose, there’s a slant to what they’re saying.
If the person is right-leaning, the chances are what’s said supports that world view. The same is true for people who lean left.
For folks who are clueless, it helps you to know what they believe, and those things they’re likely to tell you that’re not correct.
The point is, their failure is a window on their character. It tells you who they are, and how they’re likely to get things wrong.
The next aspect is that at times, I’ll call the person out on their misstatement. Seeing how they respond to my doing so (or someone else pointing it out), gives me a chance to find out not just how honest they are, whether or not they’re likely to hear correction, and fix their mistakes.
Knowing this can totally change the way I deal with that person, and the content they’re likely to push out.
The last thing that immediately comes to mind, is that people put things out there knowing full well they’re bogus, because they think folks’ll get a laugh out of it. They might also do so in order to gauge responses—to see who buys what they say without checking their veracity.
We all need a good laugh now and then, and ridiculous stories and the like, are one way to get that release at times.
On top of all of this comes the last point I’d like to make. People checking the validity of a story or fact have perspectives too. That means it’s possible they’ll flag something as problematic based on their way of viewing the universe.
Because this is the case, I’m really not looking for my content to be “curated” by even supposedly independent, neutral individuals.
Fact is, social media isn’tintended to be about filtering what I receive. Heck, I don’t even like it when they leave things out of my feed or move them around. I’m surely not likely to be pleased when they try to tell me something I’m looking at is correct or not; or refuse to show me something when they’ve decided it’s invalid.
If I could give a single piece of advice to the social media giants (and based on what I’m seeing, I don’t believe they’d take me remotely seriously), it would be this. Ditch your content verifiers!
If you want to say some story is not up to the standards set for content in some way other than pure factuality, great! Put it in your terms of service that people must meet those standards, and let them know when they violate them so they can fix what’s wrong or remove the improper post(s).
I can see a number of reasons to do that. Not having videos from serial killers dispatching their victims might be an example.
The point here is this. If you own or run a social media company, please don’t assume I want you to act as my nanny, and validate the correctness of what’s put out on your site. I can do that work acceptably well all on my own. Thanks for your attention.
To my other readers, thanks for reading, and may your time be good.