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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Rant About Facebook

     In the last several days I have seen so much fake stuff being shared on Facebook, I can hardly believe it. Photoshopped pictures, hoaxes, fake news stories, sincere Christians posting that God wants to bless me and if share a post, in a week I will come into money (God does NOT work that way), etc. 
     People post pictures of their dinner. What they don't realize is that very often food does not photograph well (that's why there exists people who make their living photographing food for commercials). What we often see is something that looks like dog puke and you want to ask if they really ate that. 
     Also, selfies. Most of the time they aren't flattering and the other day I saw two that were rather amusing. One taken in a public bathroom with urinals in the background and one with the lady's bras hanging on a door in the background. Apparently I have friends who, judging from the backgrounds in their selfies, haven't picked up anything in their house for six months. 
     There's no end to the nonsense photos and stories people re-post. What makes them believe all this crap?! 
     Consumer Reports surveyed over 1,300 households that use Facebook and produced a report on how Americans are using Facebook. What did they find? 
     Some people are sharing too much. People often say where they planned to go or posted photos from their vacation while they were actually there. Nice to know if you are a burglar. Some people have posted stuff that their employers have found out about and it's gotten them fired and some post stuff that isn't anybody's business. In reality those are probably far-fetched possibilities, but still... 
     A while back I followed a Facebook fight between a father and son over the son's girlfriend. But they aren't alone. I've seen numerous family feuds aired on Facebook. One young person even posted about an incident where her father stopped the car on a city street and peed in the gutter. I didn't need to know that. Some people go public about their health problems, too. 
     Research shows it’s easy to get people to believe fake news when it supports something they already believe. That's why I see so many posts and photos about social issues, political issues and politicians that are clearly fake. All you need is a picture that reinforces some fear, bias, presupposition, question, concern or conspiracy then just make up a story. Simple. 
     Like a recent picture I saw of a politician with an outrageous quote attached to it. I easily located the source...a person who is apparently disgruntled about a ton of things and put the picture and quote on their Facebook page. No source, nothing. Careful Googling the quote and looking for the source revealed nothing. It was made up. 
    Research shows that people who prefer alternative news sources are especially susceptible to fake news stories. Researchers at Northeastern University’s Laboratory for the Modeling of Biological and Socio-Technical Systems released a study that tries to explain why some people readily believe fake news. 
     Mostly they are people who mistrust the media (really, who does trust them completely?!) and people who put stock into a conspiracy theory. The research found that on Facebook at least there is a strong connection between believers of fake news and those who frequented political activism pages and alternative news sources. 
     The study concluded that the more fake news appears online, the greater the bias people have towards believing what they want to think is true. I also read a psychological study that showed that with some people facts that disprove a story will many times only serve to strengthen their belief that the fake story is really true! If they believe the earth is flat, all the pictures in the world of a round earth won't convince them because in their minds, the round earth pictures are fake. How's that for a startling find by psychologists?! What that report told me was that when you see a friend posting something that's obviously (to you) fake, there is little point in trying to correct the situation...they won't believe you.

A site with a lot of helpful Facebook information is That's Nonsense.

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