Tag Archives: misinformation

Fox News And A Silkwood Shower: An Ugly Face of Racism

29 Aug

FauxI was visiting a dear friend in the hospital yesterday and because it was a shared room, I was exposed to hearing Fox News blaring from the television behind the curtain next to me. After four hours of exposure, I was certain that not even a Silkwood Shower could wash that toxic slime from my pores, for Fox (Faux) News is just a dirt that won’t wash clean.

For almost a solid four hours I had to listen to what is tantamount to White Supremacist propaganda — a bunch of white people foaming at the mouth and spewing venomous lies about racism.  I’m sorry Fox (Faux) News, but you don’t get to tell us that racism no longer exists.  Your vilification of the late Michael Brown is more than just shameful, it is nothing less than unconscionable. Upon publishing Ferguson and the War on Human Rights, I was exceedingly sad to see the number of search engine terms for “Darren Wilson hero.” It weighed heavy on my heart that a human being would even search for those words together.  I will not vilify Mr. Wilson, but I do hope we have some candid conversations about race and racial equity.

The brainwashing machine that is Faux News would have us believe that we live in a post racist society and that those terrible awful liberal Democrats (two words used by the Fox network in every complete sentence) are forcing white people to think about race.  I was horrified that they are allowed to tell outright lies and mortified that the manure they are spreading only contributes to increased racism. Their violent, baseless rhetoric supports and tacitly encourages the targeting of other groups that do not identify as white, heterosexual, or Christian — the moniker of “Christian” is a tricky one because there are many progressive and critical thinking Christians who are in diametric opposition to the Tea Party flavor of “Christian”.  Of course when I reflect upon the many intersections of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, it is no wonder that the homophobic and racist Elizabeth Hasselbeck joined the team at Fox.

Sadly, this is the only source of information some people allow themselves.  We are losing the art of journalism and the implications are far reaching. If Fox persists and is the only source one allows, then one starts to believe the lies and propaganda, which means one is then colluding with racism, homophobia, misogyny, and all the other ways in which we target our other human beings. Faux News is worse than misinformation — it’s inhuman.

Facebook and Censorship: Misunderstandings and Assumptions

19 Apr

The Kiss That Launched 1,000 Assumptions

The Internet, especially its social media tools, is a powerful force. In the best of circumstances, it allows a free, fairly public platform for exchanges of ideas and dissemination of information. In the worst of circumstances, however, it is the fastest way for misinformation to take on the appearance of reality. Take, for example, the Myth of the Censored Facebook Event.

A quick recap: As we reported here at TSM, the owners of the John Snow pub in London removed two gay men for kissing in their establishment. That was clearly wrong and resulted in a flurry of righteous outrage including a kiss-in outside the pub. Activist Paul Shelter organized the event on Facebook. Dangerous Minds publicized the event using a photo from the show Eastenders; their writer Richard Metzger posted that photo to Facebook to help publicize the event. Apparently, Facebook received a complaint and removed the photo. Metzger was angry that a fairly innocent picture was censored and wrote a piece in Dangerous Minds. Sadly, this is where things went viral and wrong.

Metzger noted that the Facebook page for the kiss-in was no longer available. He made an unfortunate assumption (at least implicitly) and linked that event to the removal of the picture from his page, resulting in an online firestorm against Facebook for their supposed homophobic behavior. As it turns out:

  • Paul Shelter, the kiss-in organizer, made the Facebook event private after the actual kiss-in ended because trolls were leaving very hostile comments. The reason he went private with the event is very sad, but it is not Facebook’s fault in any direct way.
  • Facebook appears to have a “delete first and investigate later” policy when anyone complains about content. This is still a bit vague, but everything I’ve been able to substantiate points to this. Since some content could be truly offensive or dangerous, this is an aggressive but somewhat understandable system, especially since
  • Facebook did investigate the picture and restore it with an apology to Metzger. The social media giant has a policy and a procedure and followed both of them. You can disagree with the policy and even lobby Facebook to change it, but don’t use an extreme example of one thing to assume a broad pattern of behavior without proof.

This is the peril of the world of too-fast information and not enough research. Metzger posed a fairly bold hypothetical in his piece, the comments page went wild with it, and in days the myth that Facebook deleted the kiss-in was everywhere. I have to confess, when I saw Metzger’s original article and sensed the brewing storm, it seemed like an over-reaction. It turns out I was right.

It is all too easy to make quick assumptions and share them everywhere these days. That’s very dangerous and can lead to outright lies becoming part of the fabric of the Internet. We are conditioned by our online tools to expect fast answers when just a little patience would give us the truth. When you read something, engage with the text; question the assumptions; consider the source. The interconnected nature of social media can create great change for good (just look at Egypt), but it can also spread confusion. When you hit “share” be sure you are part of the positive change and not just another part of the noise.

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