15 votes

To which extent do you think it is useful to call bullshit on Facebook posts?

So I have a few high school friends in Facebook who recently have become more radical (islamophobia, racism, sexism, identitarianism, etc.). As I said in a recent thread I have almost everyone but family blocked on my feed, but sometimes I make it a point to go to their profiles and see what they have posted. It usually is a lot of disinformation, misdirection, and dog whistling. I try to call them out because younger kids in my town look up to people like them and I'm worried they will become a bad influence. I also hope that, even though they will probably not become anarchists (or even run-of-the-mill conservatives) tomorrow, at least they will be a bit more empathetic to other people's pain.

My question is, do you think it is useful to do this? Will their posts or my rebuttals make any difference at all? How do you react in these situations?

More broadly speaking, is it important to have people calling bullshit when other people say blatant lies? Or is it useless and that energy would be better spent somewhere else?
On the one hand even if it is just for signaling to other people (in my particular example, muslims, the LGBTQ community, etc.) that they are not alone it seems like a good thing to do. On the other hand, I'm finding it less and less likely every day that anyone will change their opinion on anything without a massive investment in bots/shills/astroturfers. Or a good psychedelic trip :-D.

I am curious to hear your experiences regarding this and it is something I have discussed in person with other people and I always hear good arguments from both (and more) sides. Hopefully this is the right group/kind of thread and I'm doing the tag thing correctly, it is my first thread here !

16 comments

  1. [4]
    Algernon_Asimov (edited ) Link
    My Facebook friends don't make a lot of political posts, and the political posts I do see are generally ones I agree with (the few people I know who have opposite politics to mine tend not to post...

    My Facebook friends don't make a lot of political posts, and the political posts I do see are generally ones I agree with (the few people I know who have opposite politics to mine tend not to post political stuff on Facebook).

    What I do get is all those silly little urban legends and myths. The only one that I can remember right now is the one where a month containing three Fridays and three Saturdays and three Sundays is considered lucky by the Chinese* - but there have been other, more consequential, ones as well. When I see misinformation like this, I debunk it. I am a serial debunker. And I have found that most of these posts quietly just disappear when I post a link to an article which proves it wrong. I therefore consider my job done. I have stopped that misinformation from spreading further.

    If you see blatant lies or misinformation being posted on Facebook, debunk it. Find the facts, and post those facts under the misleading post. My opinion is that, if I don't debunk lies and misinformation when I see them, I am complicit in allowing them to spread.

    It might be harder to do this when it comes to opinions, but you're on solid ground if you share actual facts to counteract misinformation.

    Hopefully this is the right group/kind of thread and I'm doing the tag thing correctly

    I might have chosen ~talk instead. This isn't really about living your life. But it's a grey area. The tags are fine, though.

    * Because the Chinese calendar is luni-solar, it has only 28.5 days in each month, so it is therefore impossible for a month in the Chinese calendar to contain three Fridays and three Saturdays and three Sundays.

    10 votes
    1. [3]
      frickindeal Link Parent
      Exactly how one debunks misinformation and lies is important as well. I see political disagreements on my visited-once-a-month FB feed, and it always breaks down into personal insults, logical...

      Exactly how one debunks misinformation and lies is important as well. I see political disagreements on my visited-once-a-month FB feed, and it always breaks down into personal insults, logical fallacies (strawman and no-true-Scotsman are especially popular), and unproductive arguments. If I see a falsehood posted, I just post a link to a source or sources countering it, without additional comment or with a simple "This research disagrees." I never engage them in insults or name-calling, because they're really accustomed to arguing that way and seem to actually enjoy it.

      8 votes
      1. Archimedes Link Parent
        Yes, the key is to try to avoid us-versus-them tribalism and to assume good faith. If that assumption turns out to be wrong, then you are wasting your time and energy and exiting the discussion is...

        Yes, the key is to try to avoid us-versus-them tribalism and to assume good faith. If that assumption turns out to be wrong, then you are wasting your time and energy and exiting the discussion is likely the best option for everyone's sanity.

        3 votes
      2. Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
        Exactly.

        If I see a falsehood posted, I just post a link to a source or sources countering it, without additional comment or with a simple "This research disagrees."

        Exactly.

        2 votes
  2. Kijafa Link
    The only person in my facebook feed who I've noticed posting pro-conservative misinformation is my dad. And for a bit I was conflicted, because he didn't do great under the Obama administration...

    The only person in my facebook feed who I've noticed posting pro-conservative misinformation is my dad. And for a bit I was conflicted, because he didn't do great under the Obama administration (budget cuts to what he was working on) and he's been bitter about it since. To the extent that anything he can see about damaging the credibility of the Democratic Party makes him happy.

    So when he posted something that was obviously fake news, I just tried to gently (and publicly) let him know that someone pulled the wool over his eyes. It came from a place of love and trying to be protective of my dad, so he listened. His stopped for a bit, and then started up again. So I called out his post again, and finally he stopped.

    My situation was really unique, but I think if you approach something like that from being in someone's corner and trying to help them, they're more likely to listen. Even if you're just trying to reassure people they're not alone like you said, you can try to come in at this sideways. If people don't think you're their enemy, they're far more likely is hear you out.

    4 votes
  3. Erik Link
    I've got a basic rule for me on Facebook that keeps me sane and doesn't waste too much of my time: "Don't engage on other people's posts if you disagree with them." Now, if people disagree with my...

    I've got a basic rule for me on Facebook that keeps me sane and doesn't waste too much of my time: "Don't engage on other people's posts if you disagree with them."

    Now, if people disagree with my posts on my wall, I'll talk, debate, argue, whatever. But I don't start this shit on other people's walls because it often spirals out of control with a bunch of people and arguments and threads. If I see some bad misinformation that keeps getting repeated, I may even post an article or something on my wall that specifically disproves that idea if it's really bothering me.

    But this basic rule has made Facebook, and social media in general, a lot more tolerable for me. And I can put my efforts into stuff like political organizing with a group that I agree with and does positive things in the world more. Or spend time with my kid. Or even just play some Overwatch with my friends. Because all of that is a better use of my time.

    4 votes
  4. DonQuixote Link
    I don't really do Facebook, because it's Facebook. But as for calling people out on bullcrap, I've learned that this is rather pointless, at least for me. Living my life out in front of people is...

    I don't really do Facebook, because it's Facebook. But as for calling people out on bullcrap, I've learned that this is rather pointless, at least for me. Living my life out in front of people is my best advert for living sensibly, if non-conventionally.

    If there's someone I really care about and I see them hurting themselves, or just plain hurting, I might offer to lend an ear. That's the best way, really to interact with folks. On the other hand, at certain times in our lives, we feel very passionate about life lessons we've learned/integrated/absorbed. Sometimes that passion inflames our defenses and emotions and sometimes helps us deal with others when they threaten ones we love.

    But 99% of my wishes to give others a good talking to (the opposite of lending an ear to) I keep to myself. Life is too short to fix everyone in the world and anyway, they don't want it.

    3 votes
  5. jesus Link
    I usually just unfriend people like that or unfollow them if I don't want them to notice. Most people it isn't worth trying to change their views unless they are a really close friend that you...

    I usually just unfriend people like that or unfollow them if I don't want them to notice.

    Most people it isn't worth trying to change their views unless they are a really close friend that you know won't take it the wrong way.

    2 votes
  6. demifiend Link
    It isn't useful to call bullshit on Facebook posts. It isn't useful to follow "friends" who post bullshit on Facebook. It isn't useful to be on Facebook at all, unless you have family who are...

    It isn't useful to call bullshit on Facebook posts. It isn't useful to follow "friends" who post bullshit on Facebook. It isn't useful to be on Facebook at all, unless you have family who are willing and able to stage an "intervention" because they can't find you there.

    2 votes
  7. [2]
    starchturrets Link
    It's better to quit Facebook entirely, but like Algie Algernon said, use facts to counter outright falsehoods.

    It's better to quit Facebook entirely, but like Algie Algernon said, use facts to counter outright falsehoods.

    2 votes
    1. Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
      Facebook still has its benefits for me. A lot of people I know use Facebook, and it's a way of keeping in touch with some of them. I've stripped my profile there of any personal or identifying...

      It's better to quit Facebook entirely

      Facebook still has its benefits for me. A lot of people I know use Facebook, and it's a way of keeping in touch with some of them. I've stripped my profile there of any personal or identifying information: no education history, no work history, no general "likes", and so on. It's just a connection hub for me. I certainly don't use it for news and information; that comes from my newspaper subscription, and Reddit, and now Tildes.

      like Algie Algernon said

      Thanks! :)

      2 votes
  8. Archimedes Link
    If it's possible to correct the post politely, succinctly, and factually, then it can be worth it sometimes. However, anything that is primarily opinion-based or needs extended writing to counter...

    If it's possible to correct the post politely, succinctly, and factually, then it can be worth it sometimes. However, anything that is primarily opinion-based or needs extended writing to counter is probably not worth engaging as the resulting conversation is not likely to be productive. It's tough to avoid sometimes, so I usually unfollow people that repeatedly post junk I don't want to be tempted to engage with.

    2 votes
  9. cmdrrockawesome Link
    I get the feeling that most people don’t post political things on Facebook to foster debate and discussion. They’re doing it to preach to the choir. Everyone does this. Whenever someone disagrees...

    I get the feeling that most people don’t post political things on Facebook to foster debate and discussion. They’re doing it to preach to the choir. Everyone does this. Whenever someone disagrees or contradicts them, they just dismiss it outright.

    I don’t know if many, or any, minds have been changed because of a Facebook argument/post. I’m sure some have, but if you’re goal is to change one mind, go for it. Be prepared to want to pull your hair out to achieve that goal.

    1 vote
  10. agentsmith907 Link
    I used to be more "active" in that regard, calling out posts and getting into arguments. Now I pick and choose when to comment, and try and do it in a more respectful manner, if that makes sense.

    I used to be more "active" in that regard, calling out posts and getting into arguments.

    Now I pick and choose when to comment, and try and do it in a more respectful manner, if that makes sense.

    1 vote
  11. SportsDrank Link
    I feel like if I took the time to do that on my Facebook it would quite quickly become a full time job that's ultimately futile. One of things you learn living in an intolerant area, with...

    I feel like if I took the time to do that on my Facebook it would quite quickly become a full time job that's ultimately futile. One of things you learn living in an intolerant area, with intolerant family, is to pick your battles.

    There's a reason I never log in. I'm happier being unaware of what everyone around me thinks. There's no reasoning the majority of them out of their views using logic.

    The friends that I share similar values with communicate outside of Facebook, generally.

  12. Neverland Link
    From what I understand of how FB works, when you comment on a post it will increase the post's engagement metric. This will lead to more people seeing it, especially friends of yours. So maybe...

    From what I understand of how FB works, when you comment on a post it will increase the post's engagement metric. This will lead to more people seeing it, especially friends of yours. So maybe take that into account prior to replying.