One thing (amongst many) that always bothered me in my 6+ years of using Reddit was their lax rules about posting clickbait articles and straight up misinformation. In my opinion this was something that contributed to the rise of radical communities and echochambers in the website.
In this post I'll talk about Clickbait, Unreliable studies, and Misinformation. I'll give examples for each one and suggest a way to deal with it.
Let's start with the most benign one. These days most big websites use clickbait and hyperbole to gain more traffic. It's something that they have to do in order to survive in today's media climate and I sort of understand. But I think that as a community in Tildes we should raise our standards and avoid posting any article that uses clickbait, instead directly link to the source that the article cites.
An example would be: An article titled "Life on Mars found: Scientists claim that they have found traces of life on the red planet".
But when you read the original source it only states that "Mars rover Curiosity has identified a variety of organic molecules" and that "These results do not give us any evidence of life,".
(This may be a bad/exaggrated example but I think it gets my point across.)
On Reddit the mods give these kinds of posts a "Misleading" tag. But the damage is already done, most of the users won't read the entire article or even the source, and instead will make comments based on the headline.
I personally think that these kinds of posts should be deleted even if they get a discussion going in the comments.
This is a bit more serious than clickbait. It's something that I see the most in subjects of psychology, social science and futurism.
These are basically articles about studies that conclude a very interesting result, but when you dig a bit you find that the methodologies used to conduct the study were flawed and that the results are inconclusive.
An (real) example would be: "A new study finds that cutting your time on social media to 30 minutes a day reduces your risk of depression and loneliness"
At first glance this looks legit, I even agree with the results. But lets see how this study was conducted:
In the study, 143 undergraduate students were tested over the course of two semesters.
After three weeks, the students were asked questions to assess their mental health across seven different areas
Basically, their test group was 143 students, The test was only conducted for 6 months, and the results were self-reported.
Clearly, this is junk. This study doesn't show anything reliable. Yet still, it received a lot of upvotes on Reddit and there was a lot of discussion going. I only spotted 2-3 comments (at the bottom) mentioning that the study is unreliable.
Again, I think that posts with studies like this should be deleted regardless if there is a discussion going in the comments or not.
This is in my opinion the biggest offender and the most dangerous one. It's something that I see in political subreddits (even the big ones like /r/politics and /r/worldnews). It's when an article straight up spreads misinformation both in the headline and in the content in order to incite outrage or paint a narrative.
Note: I will give an example that bashes a "left-leaning" article that is against Trump. I'm only doing this because I only read left-leaning to neutral articles and don't go near anything that is right-leaning. Because of this I don't have any examples of a right-leaning article spreading misinformation (I'm sure that there are a lot).
An example would be this article: "ADMINISTRATION ADMITS BORDER DEPLOYMENT WAS A $200 MILLION ELECTION STUNT"
There are two lies here:
- Trump administration did not admit to anything. (The article's use of the word 'Admit' is supposedly justified with 'They indirectly admitted to it'. I personally think this is a bad excuse.)
- Most importantly, the 200 million figure is pure speculation. If you go to the older article that this article cites, the 200m figure comes from a speculation that the operation could cost up to 200m if the number of troops sent to the border is 15,000 and they stay there for more than 2 months.
In reality the number of troops sent was 8,500 and they stayed for only a few days/weeks.
A few days after this article was published it turned out that the operation costed 70 million. Still a big sum, still ridiculous. But it's almost a third of what the article claimed.
The misinformation in this example is fairly benign. But I've seen countless other articles with even more outrageous claims that force a certain narrative. This is done by both sides of the political spectrum.
Not only do I think that we should delete these kinds of posts in Tildes, in my opinion we should black list websites that are frequent offenders of spreading misinformation.
Examples off the top of my head would be: Vanity Fair, Salon.com, of course far right websites like Fox News, Info Wars and Breitbart.
A good rule in my opinion would be: If three posts from a certain website get deleted for spreading misinformation, that website should be blacklisted from Tildes.
I think we should set some rules against these problems while our community is still in the early stages. Right now I don't see any of these 3 problems on Tildes. But if we don't enforce rules against them, they will start to pop up the more users we gain.
I'll be happy to know your opinions and suggestions on the matter!