Part of the Problem

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.

 

  4 comments for “Part of the Problem

  1. Michael Zarling
    February 28, 2018 at 6:43 am

    Andy, I thought for sure you were going to say, “The ends do not justify the memes.” 🙂

  2. Kim Lahaie Day
    February 28, 2018 at 7:25 am

    Excellent post and reminder. It’s a good idea to verify statistics using reputable sources. Must keep emotion out of it and go with facts only.

  3. Kenneth
    February 28, 2018 at 8:45 am

    God Bless You, know Jesus loves you today. Preach On. Amen

  4. Elaine Wells
    March 3, 2018 at 8:57 am

    When I see the ridiculous memes I laugh. And let’s call Fake News what it actually is: Propaganda. That’s so much scarier, isn’t it? And so you know, Snopes is no longer a credible fact-checker. It has not been for several years. It’s owned by Facebook. I copied the information below from Food Babe, Vani Hari, who is fighting GMO in the food industry. If you find time read the entire article. Snopes is caught spreading lies on multiple occasions.

    Is Snopes a credible and authoritative source of information?
    Snopes is now 50% owned by an ad agency (Proper Media) and they make money by generating millions of views on the 3rd-party advertisements on their website. It simply makes sense for them to seek out articles that are viral to “debunk”, so that they can piggy-back on that traffic and generate more advertising revenue.
    Snopes was founded by a husband and wife team who are now in the middle of a contentious divorce in which founder David Mikkelsen has been accused of embezzling $98,000 of company money to spend on “himself and prostitutes”.
    Snopes now has a hired team of suspect fact checkers who collaborate to debunk falsehoods that are trending on the internet.
    These fact checkers reportedly have no editorial oversight and do not follow standard journalistic procedures such as interviewing the authors of articles they are trying to debunk to get all sides of the story.
    Snopes doesn’t have a formal screening process for hiring fact checkers and for evaluating applicants for any potential conflicts of interest. Without such standards, it is very easy for them to be infiltrated by those who work with the industry and who have a hidden agenda.

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