Tag Archives: Facebook

Fake News Ethics: A Quick Audit

fake-news

There is…

(1) fake news,

(2) misleading or incompetent reporting,

(3) news that some people call fake because they don’t like its likely effects or implications, and

(4) news that people want others to think is fake so they can peddle their own fake news.

Did genuine, unequivocal fake news affect the 2016 election—that is, the first kind, the kind peddled by hoax sites like The News Nerd, and the Macedonian junk like the story about the Pope endorsing Trump?  There’s no evidence that would suggest or support that. Many voters are naive, gullible, ignorant fools, but still: how many actually changed their votes based on complete fiction? It’s impossible to tell, but stating that this was the case is itself a form of fake news.

Democrats and partisan pundits had been using the “fake news” device to mute the voices of journalists who didn’t follow in lockstep to the mainstream media pro-Democratic march. The IRS scandal, which is real and damning, has been largely ignored by the mainstream news media and called a “nothingburger” in Obama Administration talking points.The assertion that it is a myth that the IRS is using its power to suppress conservative dissent is …..fake news.

Because Fox is the only major news outlet (I do not count the slimy Breitbart websites) that was consistently critical of the Obama administration when it deserved it (and sometimes when it did not), Democrats not-quite-successfully-enough set out to marginalize Fox, calling it “faux news” and pushing the Obama narrative that it wasn’t even a legitimate news source. Obama, in an interview with Rolling Stone (speaking of sources of fake news!), blamed Clinton’s loss in part on “Fox News in every bar and restaurant in big chunks of the country.”

Isn’t that amazing? What gall. It isn’t the fact that the debt (that Obama promised to reduce) is now just short of 20 TRILLION dollars, with Obama adding a record $7.917 trillion to it, it’s that the one news source that actively exposed that fact was available to middle class voters that led to Hillary’s loss.  It wasn’t that the Affordable Care Act didn’t let Americans keep their health care plans as Obama repeatedly swore it would, it was that Fox News kept reminding its viewers of that (as the rest of the news media soft-peddled it) , while also publicizing that thanks to the Affordable Care Act, one’s health care insurance was less affordable unless the government was paying for it. It wasn’t that Hillary Clinton had lied about her e-mail tricks for over a year, the problem was that Fox was responsibly reporting that she was lying, unlike CNN, NBC, and the rest.

You know. Fake news.

As part of an organized effort up and down Democratic groups, ranks, allies and media operatives to de-legitimatize Donald Trump’s victory, the definition of “fake news” has been conveniently expanded. The Washington Post published a jaw-droppingly sloppy, partisan piece last week alleging that

The flood of “fake news” this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy, say independent researchers who tracked the operation.”

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Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Facebook, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Research and Scholarship, Rights, Social Media, The Internet

Unethical Facebook Post Of The Month: The Fired KFC Employee

unethical-tweet

We can make short work of this one. The post, which is being circulated around social media with great glee, embodies an unethical impulse, breach of confidentiality, and vengeance. It is miles away from the other end of the disgruntled ex-employee spectrum, but on the spectrum nonetheless, along with taking a shotgun to one’s former office and firing away. Trying to harm an employer because you got yourself fired simply illustrates the kind of character deficits that resulted in the termination.

As with everything else in life,there is an ethical way to get fired. That would be to shake the hand of the one who handed you the pink slip, state your appreciation for the chance to work and sincere regret that it did not work out, then to say good-bye and good luck to fellow workers, then walking out with head held high. Leaving while darkly muttering “You’ll be sorry!” under your breath, or trying to harm the company’s reputation or business though retaliation later, is both unethical and stupid. Calvin better hope his ill-considered message doesn’t get into any potential employer’s hands. You’d have to be nuts to hire someone like him.

His is the not-so-secret recipe for distrust and failure.

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Facebook, Workplace

Let’s Hear No More About Facebook “Values”

china-facebook-1024x576

The New York Times reports that Facebook has developed software that will enable partner Chinese companies to monitor popular stories and topics that Facebook users share across the social network. Facebook’s partner would have power to decide whether those posts should show up in users’ feeds and suppress posts from  in specific geographic areas. The censorship and information-suppressing software  was created to help Facebook get into China, a lucrative market where the social network has been blocked. CEO Mark Zuckerberg is, sources say, full supportive of this effort by Facebook to make the subjugation of Chinese liberty easier.

One of Facebook’s core mission statements is “Make the world more open and connected.” Like so many mission statements, it is public relations deception. If Facebook was devoted to this mission, it would not even consider breaching its intent, letter and spirit by spending time and money to develop censorship software.

Facebook’s real mission is making a fortune by expanding into new markets. Let us not debase the topic of this blog by defaulting to Rationalization # 25. The Coercion Myth: “I have no choice!”

Facebook has a choice, the ethical one. That choice is to tell China it has a choice: either accept Facebook without censorship, of do without it. Google and Twitter, neither exactly paragons of virtue, have been blocked there for refusing to yield to the government’s  censorship requirements. Boy, when a company isn’t even as ethical as Twitter..wow.

This is the company we are going to trust to decide what is “real news.”  Ridiculous.

Prominent Democratic Party supporter Zuckerberg, like the party itself, is insufficiently allergic to the methods and objectives of totalitarianism.

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Filed under Around the World, Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Facebook, Government & Politics, Rights, Science & Technology, The Internet

“Fake News” Ethics: Top Ten Culprits (And Facebook Isn’t One Of Them)

pope-trump

“Fake News” is now a big topic in the news media, as it tries to lead public attention away from legitimate scrutiny of its own bias and incompetence, Facebook, in particular, is the target of this outcry, because the false narrative (should Facebook also be helped responsible for policing false narratives?) that fake news drove Donald Trump’s shocking victory is more palatable than the accurate narrative that Trump was opposed by the only candidate so corrupt, dishonest and inept that he had a chance of winning.

Here’s an interesting study of how Facebook’s algorithms circulates news stories that are made up. The focus on this kind of fake news, however, creates a fake picture of the problem that over-emphasizes hoax stories, many of which, apparently, come from teens in Macedonia exploiting American online gullibility for profit. The problem is that Americans are so ignorant that when some of them read a story that says  the Pope endorsed Donald Trump, they believe it. (Popes don’t endorse presidential candidates, and if anyone conscious thinks about it for five minutes, they should be able to figure out why.) The problem is that 40% of Americans are so lazy that they get their news from social media (and another chunk gets its news from comedy shows.)

The Blame Facebook theory is that because Facebook is foolishly relied upon by inept and gullible citizens to get their information about the world, Facebook has to take on the impossible task of vetting news items.

Facebook, however, is neither trustworthy nor competent to do this. Facebook is biased. Facebook is overrun with social justice warriors whose idea of what Facebook should censor is anything that offends them. For example:

Mark Zuckerberg had to fend off employees during the U.S. presidential campaign who wanted to censor billionaire Donald Trump’s posts due to alleged hate speech. Controversial statements by Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign in December forced Mr. Zuckerberg to quash a mini-mutiny of staffers who threatened to quit if they could not delete the candidate’s posts. Sources close to the matter told The Wall Street Journal that some of the comments in question involved a plan to ban Muslim immigrants while the U.S. determines how to best combat the Islamic State group.

Biased selections regarding which news to print while censoring the statements of a Presidential candidate are at least as misleading as fake news.

Presumably Facebook won’t try vet the misleading, dishonest news stories, commentary, links and memes I see flooding Facebook every day, courtesy of my nice, friendly, smart, educated, completely left-biased and right-biased friends who throw absolute garbage out as truth and immediately receive dozens of “Likes” for doing so. These are a lot more visible and just as brain-muddling as any Macedonian fiction. Here’s one example from yesterday, and to the good friend who posted it, I love you dearly but you are gullible and irresponsible:

BREAKING: Trump Announces Plan To ELIMINATE Overtime Pay For 20,000,000 Americans

This is completely false, as one would learn, sort of, by reading the story. Republicans are going to review regulations established in the last 60 days and kill the ones they think are ill-advised, as the law allows Congress to do. One that might be in jeopardy is a recent  rule that requires companies to pay time-and-a-half overtime to employees who make under roughly $47,000. The article also eventually says that it is House Republicans who say they are targeting the rule. So, to summarize:

  • Trump announced no such plan.
  • Nothing is being eliminated, since nobody has received any extra pay to be eliminated.
  • The alleged regulation cancellation wouldn’t take away overtime pay, as the headline states, but the requirement of paying overtime plus 50%.
  • Killing the rule wouldn’t take away such overtime or ban it; employers would still be free to pay time and a half at their discretion.

In short, the headline is fake news, designed to attack Trump. This kind of fake news isn’t included in the linked study, and for good reason. If we fairly call misleading headlines fake news, Facebook would be charged with vetting the mainstream media constantly. What about real quotes, from supposedly reliable people, that falsely spread rumors or specious accusations? Jim Comey did not violate the Hatch Act, as Harry Reid claimed. Trump is not a Nazi, as Howard Dean just claimed. Those quotes are just as misleading than nonsense about the Pope endorsing Donald Trump, but they are real quotes, from well-respected people who are being irresponsible. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Business & Commercial, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Social Media, U.S. Society

From Facebook, Two Comments Of The Day: The Election

Police form a line to contain protesters outside a campaign rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Thursday, June 2, 2016, in San Jose, Calif.  A group of protesters attacked  Trump supporters who were leaving the presidential candidate's rally in San Jose on Thursday night. A dozen or more people were punched, at least one person was pelted with an egg and Trump hats grabbed from supporters were set on fire on the ground. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Two regular commenters,  johnburger2013 and Alexander Cheezem, cross-posted their Facebook essays about the election on Ethics Alarms. Both are worthy Comment of the Day.

First, from johnburger2013:

A  Facebook friend told me to let this go. However, I can’t, especially after reading countless postings about the end to the US as we know it. This post is most particularly directed at the person accusing me of white-male-entitled-complacency, who has never had to worry about storm troopers kicking in my front door.

Trump won. Clinton lost. This has been a long, painful, contentious election cycle, extraordinarily dividing the nation into bitter, blinded hemispheres with unbelievable and unnecessary bloodletting.

Yet, take heart. The US republic will survive. Will Trump be a good president? Who knows? Nobody. Got that? Nobody. Time will tell.

Give some credit to the citizenry. The US, for all of its past and present errors, has tried to live up to its mission to form a ‘more perfect’ union. It has constantly tried to right the ship and steer it away from the rocks. Hopefully, the thousand cuts inflicted by this election will heal and the nation will find itself stronger. I have read that a broken bone is stronger when it heals. Hope springs eternal.

To those lamenting and wailing that your candidate lost: Stop it. Please. For the sake of the nation. Just stop it. Trump’s presidency does not, and will not, lead to mass incarceration, deportation, or the building of ovens. The US is nowhere near where the Weimar Republic was in the 1920s. Nor is it anywhere close to pre-Mussolini Italy, pre-Franco Spain, pre-Chavez Venezuela, or pre-Morales Bolivia. And no, Trump’s presidency will not, under any circumstances, be a catalyst for religious reactionaries calling for pregnant women to be chained to the stove.

More particularly, stop hurling Nazi memes around. Nazi Germany led to unspeakable evil, targeting Jews for extermination. Do not, under any circumstances, diminish what Jews suffered under Nazi genocide by claiming that Trump and his supporters are one clothing store away from brown shirts. Do not tell me that my ‘white-privilege complacency’ blinds me to the realities of Kristallnacht. It is insulting and cruel. I am from the Cleveland, Ohio, area, which had a large survivor community. I saw the fear. I heard the stories survivors endured. Worst of all, I saw the despair in the eyes of ordinary people targeted because of their religion. I don’t need to experience first-hand what happened at Treblinka or Auschwitz to know that that is pure, unbridled evil.

Furthermore, I saw that Kristallnacht has been trending on Facebook, and, ironically, began on November 9, 1938. Believe, me, I do not support Donald Trump – I think he will be a terrible president (I hope I am wrong). However, I am disheartened and saddened that fellow citizens cannot put aside partisan differences. Reading Facebook postings comparing Trump to Hitler, and his supporters to the Schutzstaffel, is morally offensive, especially having known people who suffered through Nazi genocide, people forever scarred by the horror they lived and having to relive it every single moment they look at numbers brutally carved into their skin

Trump’s victory absolutely does not mean that minorities will be hauled back to plantations in chains, or marriages recently upheld will be obliterated.

As for Trump and his supporters: Drop the “Clinton-is-a-criminal” stuff. Your candidate won. Stop gloating. It is immature and unbecoming of the republic. Your candidate will take the highest executive office in the land. Demand that your candidate govern with the dignity, respect, and vision that office requires. Demand that he stop saying stupid things. Demand that he develop a filter and impulse control expected of the office.

Disagree over policy. Disagree over ideas. Disagree all you want about Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush or Obama, but they behaved in the manner called for by the Office of the President of the United States of America.

The US is a great place to live because of the liberties enshrined and guaranteed and protected by the Constitution. If we, as citizens, hold to true to those values, the nation will be a better place.

Now Alexander Cheezem’s Comment of the Day, on the theme of accountability, an Ethics Alarms favorite. I’ll have a brief comment at the end: Continue reading

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Filed under U.S. Society

Social Media Ethics: Speaking Of “Rigged” Elections….

social-media

Can someone give me a benign explanation for this?

From Zero Hedge:

“Does anyone else find it odd that ‘FBI Emails’ does not appear to be a hot topic, trending, big deal on any social media?”

Facebook… “Trending”…

 

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Social Media, This Will Help Elect Donald Trump, U.S. Society

Ethics Villain: No, Not Bloodthirsty 12-Year-Old Aryanna Gourdin, But Eli Gourdin, Her Irresponsible Father

aryanna-gourdin

Aryanna Gourdin, 12, from the town of Cove, Utah, has attracted death threats on Facebook because of her page called “Braids and Bows,” an enthusiastic pro-hunting, pro-big game killing exposition featuring photos of the girl with recent victims and her enthusiastic prose about the joys of the kill.

She’s twelve. Her father (he apparently has sole custody) is the adult hunting fanatic in the family, and he has, as parents often do, passed along his dubious values to his daughter. He either doesn’t know or doesn’t care that while many people object to photos of mature hunters posing with magnificent creatures that have been slaughtered for sport, many more find images of angelic pre-teens beaming while holding the heart of a recently killed giraffe grotesque and sickening…as indeed it is. All manner of internet hate is being focused on  Eli Gourdin’s daughter, while he casually allows her to become a target.

Her notoriety and the controversy stirred up by photos like this..

Zebra kill

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Filed under Animals, Character, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Facebook