Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Fact-Checking Facebook

An open letter to Mark Zuckerberg from Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network:

Many of our organizations already provide training in fact-checking to media organizations, universities and the general public. We would be glad to engage with you about how your editors could spot and debunk fake claims.

We also believe it is vital to strengthen the role of users in combating disinformation. Numerous studies show that, regardless of partisan ideology, people are very good at accepting information that conforms to their preconceptions, even if it is false.

In my experience, fact checking has actually lead to someone’s increased belief in the fake story. Over the past couple of decades — but particularly over the past eight years — fringe media has been reinforcing their bullshit with claims that the “mainstream media” won’t cover some nonsense story because they’re “in” on it, or they have a liberal bias. Viewers and readers who buy that explanation will therefore see any attempt to debunk a claim as a way of validating it; in their minds, the debunkers are trying to suppress the claim.

I want desperately for fake news on Facebook to be debunked; yet, I worry it will have no effect. There are people so deeply entrenched in believing in conspiracy theories and complete falsehoods that evidence to the contrary is ignored at best, and a confirmation of their beliefs at worst.