Alienating Friends Through Correcting Misinformation

Snopes is your friend. Even if you cannot remember the site, searching for a sentence of a text probably will pull up a hoax clarification site.

Facebook is the new chainletter forwarding medium. The share button allows people to very easily and simply pass along anything. Often this is before they do anything to verify the information. Before anyone I know who reads this comments, I have been guilty of it too. I like to think it rarely happens.

Almost as long as I have been online, I have fought back against this kind of misinformation. When I see factual claims, I try and verify them. My GoogleFu is strong because of researching things I read or hear to confirm, deny, or better understand. If claims were false, then I left a comment. Initially I wrote in my own words detailed explanations on why something was in error. Then as I got lazier, I quoted places like Snopes who probably wrote better explanations anyway and linked back to the source.

These days at my laziest, I just post a link to the source.

Usually, I received a comment back in thanks. Sometimes it hurt feelings for me to have sent these comments. People have even stopped talking to me over getting a comment. The interesting ones involve me being called a liar or mean. So I pull back for a while and try not to hurt feelings. Eventually, I will resume responding.

Something I really should remember is people love their biases and these shares are part of solidifying them. I probably ignore the things with which I agree. By trying to correct them, I am fighting against cognitive dissonance and am not going to win.

 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/brodie.reichel Brodie Reichel

    Keep up the good work.. And the good fight.. Disinformation is a leading cause of confusion and conspiracy. The need to share a touching story as fiction should be labeled as such. I would find no harm in such communication, otherwise it is more akin to gossip.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dianaani.stokely Diana Ani Stokely

    One FBer I corrected with a snopes.com link said, “I don’t want to know if it is true or not. I don’t believe in reading snopes.” Needless to say, we are no longer FB friends, and that’s fine by me. Posting lies because it “supports” one’s agenda is the worst kind of proselytizing.

    • http://ezrasf.com/wplog/ Ezra S F

      I mostly operate in the shades of gray realm. Beliefs I hold adjust based on the available information. My position today on anything controversial will change slightly or drastically depending on new facts. But I also pay attention closely to sources and consider whether I can or cannot trust many of them.

      In writing this response, I realized there are lots of potential contexts where this applies. For me, I try to avoid political and religious conversations precisely because they go negative when people disagree. But also because my positions in those conversations usually come from a perspective totally alien to others.

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