Facebook (Fakebook?) - The cesspool of Lies and Polarization - it just keeps getting worse?

in GEMS2 months ago

I was scrolling through Facebook mindlessly the other day, as I still occasionally do, when I came across this post by a page called “Gist Africa”. You can see it for yourself here:

(SOURCE: https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=309861578806990&set=a.116475491478934)

So, what’s the problem? Well, regardless of what you think about trans-women playing against cis-women in various sports, this particular post is absolute fake news! I happen to watch tennis sometimes, so I know:

  1. The black lady is Serena Williams, not Venus her older sister. Serena is even more successful than Venus, and has won 23 grandslam titles. Many people think that she is the greatest female tennis player of all time… and so getting the name wrong is a pretty obvious mistake to anyone who even has a little bit of tennis knowledge.

  2. The white lady is Amelie Mauresmo, a cis-woman who retired from playing tennis at the end of 2009. We've seen her more recently as the coach of Andy Murray, etc... Nevertheless, she won 2 grandslam titles in her time, and was even World Number 1 for a while, and so she is a pretty recognisable person for a tennis fan as well.

  3. They never refused to play each other back when Mauresmo was still playing. Serena Williams eventually had a 10-2 head-to-head record against Mauresmo before Mauresmo retired.

Okay, so the post is rubbish through and through… Now let us look at all the comments of people who blindly accept the post as being factually correct...

Thousands of comments, almost all took the bait...

And then I ask myself "I just happen to know tennis… where have I blindly fallen for this kind of thing in other posts? How often does it happen?"

Well, I’m afraid I think the answer is very often, especially if the post can be tailor-made to make the audience emotional enough to comment and engage... I guess the comments and engagements lead to the post being more visible to everyone else, which leads to more traffic on their Facebook page, which must ultimately lead them to making some money out of advert revenue or something like that! Lord knows it's pretty hard to make money off of Facebook or Youtube!

What does that say about people if they are willing to lie and insult people just to make some money? It seems the best way to get people to engage with posts on Facebook posts these days is to create a scenario that leads to polarization and anger... which is sad.

Should Facebook allow this kind of stuff? Well, freedom of speech is incredibly important. At the same time, it is my opinion that social media has led to echo chambers and people who are unable to debate with an open mind in real life, and that this (and the dark web) have ultimately led to the polarization of different groups... who land up hating each other, and ultimately the rise of mass shootings in the last 20 years. Facebook does tend to have fact-checkers looking out for posts about Covid-19 or climate change, so why not something like this?

Now that there is AI sticking celebrity heads onto fake perfect bodies wearing transparent nipple-revealing clothes and bikinis... it won't be long before Facebook is more "Fakebook" than not... we may already be there...

Where is society going with this? Will HIVE be any better?


Facebook is a terribly toxic place, and while Hive is far from perfect it has the big advantage of the Community structure. That means all the really weird stuff tends to end up in a few places and communities will tend to ignore things that aren't relevant to what they are about.

It also helps that we're all a bunch of individualists who will question what we see. Might not get it right all the time, but we don't take the lazy approach of relying on a group of paid "fact checkers" whose real job is to enforce the agenda the platform serves.

Well yes the fact checkers must get paid by someone, and if the fact-checking is only happening on those certain topics instead of lies across the board, then you'd have to assume the funders have an agenda and are only searching for certain key words...