Facebook logo. (OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- There was some amazing reporting in the New York Times Sunday by two journalists who’ve been covering “riots and lynchings around the world linked to misinformation and hate speech on Facebook, which pushes whatever content keeps users on the site longest--a potentially damaging practice in countries with weak institutions.”
They tell how hatemongers in Sri Lanka have used the Facebook news feed to spread distortions and lies and whip up often-fatal violence, with Facebook playing “a central role in nearly every step from rumor to killing.” Facebook officials have “ignored repeated warnings of the potential for violence, resisting pressure to hire moderators or establish emergency points of contact.”
Sound familiar? Our new tech overlords at it again, feigning ignorance about the very real ignorance that is exploiting their business model to spread its deadly poison.
But the story also underlines how easily ignorance can take hold. In Sir Lanka, at least, a lack of reliable sources for true information is part of the problem, an excuse we cannot make here.
There is no reason for any sane, well-meaning citizen to swallow whole the garbage Alex Jones and other mouth-foamers put out on the internet or other media. It is fairly easy for anyone to spot their deceptiveness, to see when a headline isn’t supported by the presented facts, to smell out a nasty agenda.
And we are lucky to have access to a wealth of legitimate news organizations that follow basic journalistic rules of fairness and responsibility.
The best advice ever given – buyer beware – has never been more relevant. These days, those of us who prefer not to be willfully ignorant need to be more careful and skeptical than ever, because the armies of ignorance have never been more better-armed or more brazen.
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