Source: iStockphoto.com

I see this a lot on my Facebook feed–people sharing heartrending photos with “like and share for a prayer”…etc. Or “My dad said he would do this great thing if you share my photo! He doesn’t believe I can get a million likes!” Or “If you love Jesus, share this.”  It’s even worse when it really gets manipulative–implying only people who really care will share. Well, I’m a pretty empathetic person (in spite of my no bullshit stance here) but I’m not going to share anything that seems manipulative. Read this to learn why (other than just general crankiness with the manipulation).

There’s more reason to be angry about these posts other than just the emotional manipulation–such as when they exploit pictures of sick children without permission by those children or their parents. That’s sick and I hope my own friends can learn to avoid propping up like farmers.  Here’s one more helpful link about this problem. 

electionsHere is some helpful info about left-wing content-stealing sites (with the precaution that Alternet itself has a mixed factual history itself and I wouldn’t always share from it). When you are tempted to share from one of these extremely partisan and often content-stealing sites, I would urge you to look for the original story and share that instead of giving these sites more clicks. Just because they publish stories that cater to your side does not mean they are really on your side. They are likely just looking for clicks and shares and therefore more money from advertisers. I don’t mean there’s anything wrong with news sites making money, just that the money should go to news sites with reporters doing the actual work. If the Washington Post, for instance, breaks a big story, then they should get the links and clicks rather than a site like Occupy Democrats,  when they just copy over half the story and add a meme or outraged headline.

And here’s an article from BuzzFeed News about hyperpartisan political sites (from both sides of the political spectrum) and how often they publish false or misleading information (also with a precaution that I’m not a big fan of BuzzFeed as they also sensationalize).

From BuzzFeed:

The bottom line is that people who regularly consume information from these pages — especially those on the right — are being fed false or misleading information.

The nature of the falsehoods is important to note. They often take the form of claims and accusations against people, companies, police, movements such as Black Lives Matter, Muslims, or “liberals” or “conservatives” as a whole. They drive division and polarization. And in doing so, they generate massive Facebook engagement that brings more and more people to these pages and their websites and into the echo chamber of hyperpartisan media and beliefs.

I recognize the irony of me copying content about sites that copy content, but I am encouraging you to go ahead and click on the source links and learn more.

Truth
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Here’s a good article on How to Spot Truth in the Sea of Lies, Rumors, and Myths on the Internet.

Political memes are the worst for lies that spread like wildfire. I’ve seen them lying for both sides. For instance, both of these are lies from the last presidential election:  http://www.snopes.com/1998-trump-people-quote/ and http://www.snopes.com/hillary-clinton-stupid-quote/

Just take a moment to check. If you don’t have a moment to check, maybe you don’t really have the free time to be posting, anyway.  Go to the original source if you can. If you can’t, just google some more sources.  Check if you’re on a satire site.  Think about if the article/meme/blog post in question is just confirming your own bias and you’re not thinking it through.

I’m guilty of it, too, so I’m not saying I’m not. I’m saying let’s all be a little more careful.

Oh and can we try to be polite and not call each other repuglicans and libtards or other dehumanizing names?  We’re all human–except for the Twitter bots, of course.  We can all hate those.

 

Dropped his jaw
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Here is a list of some sites we shouldn’t be sharing links to–these all happens to be from the left. Eventually we’ll list some from the right as well. I see shares from these ALL THE TIME, and I admittedly have occasionally liked a meme or story from these myself, though lately I’ve tried to avoid it and especially avoided passing them on.

These sites are not good sources for news. They are looking to get a ton of shares by playing to your bias or stoking your outrage with sensationalist headlines. Usually they don’t even contain original content but just repeat what other actual news sources are saying but dialed up to 11 on the outrage scale.

I would add to the list in the link above a website called Washington Journal, which I’ve seen shared a lot. I don’t consider it a quality news source. It’s sensationalized and designed to garner outrage on the left. I can’t precisely speak to how factual it is but I wouldn’t trust it until verified from a more reliable source. I will probably call it out when I see it. (Not to be confused with the C-SPAN show, Washington Journal, which is a whole different thing.)

A good place to double check if your source is valid is Media Bias/Fact Check.

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Russia
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Everyone knows by now that Russia was very successful in getting Americans to suck up fake stories and in just steering Americans toward the trending topics they wanted us to pay attention to in the last presidential election. They used their own propaganda sites as well as armies of bots and trolls on social media. Well, here’s a site dedicated to tracking their propaganda work in real time.

To read more about it, click here for an article on Business Insider. 

Counterfeit Authentic Magnified
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Here are some ideas for checking photos and videos you see online.

A handy tool for photos is https://www.tineye.com where you can do a quick reverse image search. For an example, during the last presidential election, I saw a photo on my Facebook feed of Hillary Clinton shaking hands with Bin Laden. It’s not real. It looked photoshopped and it took very little time to find out it’s from a photoshop contest from a website. It’s o.k. to have differing viewpoints. It’s not o.k. to swallow misinformation without at least a quick check.

Check for altered video (you also can’t believe every video you see).

Submit photos for forensic analysis.

Another easy way to fact check a video is if you see a short excerpt or clip from a video that enrages you, maybe check for a longer version before you share your outrage. This comes from both sides of the political spectrum (and from outside politics). Here’s an example involving Trump supposedly ignoring a disabled child.

Look, if you think you don’t have time to double check before you share a photo or meme, maybe you don’t have time to share at all.

myth and reality word cloud
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Here are some helpful links to check before you share a link on social media. If more people were careful before sharing, there would be fewer false stories spreading and fewer crappy so-called news sites gaining clicks. It will avoid you getting an annoying comment by someone like me who likes to fact check.

Before you share, here are ways to spot a BS news story, from Cracked.com.

Check where bias falls (if it’s not obvious) and whether a site is known for being factual. Personally I am not as bothered by a bit of bias as I am by bad and nonfactual reporting.

Check those facts with sites like Politifact.