I was skeptical. Since the Parkland school shootings, my Facebook wall has been bombarded with memes making statistical claims to support people’s political opinions in favor of or against gun control. I wondered: Could they all be true?
Were there really 18 school shootings already in 2018? Does Switzerland really mandate that every citizen own a gun and yet has the lowest amount of gun violence in the world? Do 4,400 teens really commit suicide every year due to bullying?
Over the last couple of days I have tried to investigate the validity of every political meme which has found its way onto my Facebook page. Now, understand that the sample size is small, but do you know how many memes have turned out to be true?
None. Zero. Not one.
Many contain elements of truth, but not one has been completely factual. And yet people continue to proudly paste them on their walls to support their personal beliefs, opinions and political positions.
Over the last two years, the term “fake news” has become a part of the American vernacular. We regularly complain about the media and politicians who twist the truth or flat out promote lies.
But when you share a meme or link which is not completely accurate, you are doing the same thing. You are propagating fake news. You are lying. Even if you believe your point or position to be just, using false or manipulative statistics is wrong. The ends do not justify the means.
God wants us to speak the truth in love. Blindly sharing untruths breaks the Eighth Commandment. You are giving false testimony. Just because a friend or family member shares something on their page doesn’t make it true.
Especially in the politically charged environment in which we live, we as Christians have a responsibility to verify what we share on Facebook and other social media. Otherwise we are just spreading gossip and hearsay. We become propagators of fake news. We become a part of the problem.
So when you find a meme or link which shows clearly why your position on gun control, immigration, abortion, transgenderism or any other political issue is correct, don’t just click “like” or “share.” Google it. Go to reputable news sources to verify it. Check it out on snopes.com.
If you can’t verify it, you shouldn’t share it – even if it perfectly proves how right your position is. Stopping the propagation of fake news doesn’t begin with politicians and the media. It begins on your phone. It begins on your computer. It begins on your Facebook page.
To summarize, allow me to share a sagacious quote by the late, great Mark Twain which a friend recently shared with me on Facebook:
“Eighty-two percent of all statistics on Facebook are false.”
Mark Twain was truly ahead of his time.