Tag Archives: Facebook

Wait…Maybe THIS, And Not The Wasabi Japanese Steakhouse Plastic Peeing Boy Controversy, Is THE DUMBEST ETHICS STORY EVER TOLD!!!

In July of 2016, I recounted this jaw-droppingly idiotic story, and confidently pronounced it The Dumbest Ethics Story Ever Told, Less than two years later, is has a challenger, and it took the combined ethics cluelessness and general cluelessness of serial ethics miscreants Facebook and Snopes to  create it,


Let’s meet the players, shall we? The Babylon Bee is not a hoax site of the sort that has often been designated as an Unethical Website here, but a satire site, and a pretty good one. The distinction isn’t hard to see. Hoax sites publish fake news stories that are specifically designed to fool people, and especially the news media, into thinking they are true. Their stories are often unlikely but not much more unlikely than the forehead-smacking things that Nancy Pelosi says or President Trump tweets regularly, and they are generally not especially clever or funny. Hoax sites also do not include the disclaimer that the site is not a legitimate news source where it is easily seen or read. Usually these are not even on the home page, or visible with every story. Satire sites, like the Bee, are skillful enough that nobody but morons–you know, like the people in charge of Facebook and Snopes, could possibly take their satire as fact. They also have a clear statement on the home page, like what the Bee includes in a black bar with white lettering on the bottom: The Babylon Bee is Your Trusted Source For Christian News Satire.

Facebook you know, presumably. Perhaps you even know that, chagrined that it was the main platform through which Russians, bots and Lithuanian pranksters planted fake news during the 2016 campaign, has been taking various measures to combat “fake news,” though not the fake news that Facebook’s ideologically sympatico pals in the mainstream news media issue routinely. To help it identify the other kind of fake news, Facebook has allied with some well-known factcheckers, none of whom are completely trustworthy, and one less so than others, Snopes, which Ethics Alarms has exposed numerous times as biased, partisan, sloppy and untrustworthy. In my assessment, any organization, including Facebook but also news organizations, that relies upon or cites Snopes has condemned itself to the same category, which I will summarize for the sake of brevity as Unethical Hacks.

The Babylon Bee published a story with this headline: “CNN Purchases Industrial-Sized Washing Machine To Spin News Before Publication.”

ATLANTA, GA — In order to aid the news station in preparing stories for consumption, popular news media organization CNN purchased an industrial-sized washing machine to help its journalists and news anchors spin the news before publication.

The custom-made device allows CNN reporters to load just the facts of a given issue, turn a dial to “spin cycle,” and within five minutes, receive a nearly unrecognizable version of the story that’s been spun to fit with the news station’s agenda.

One reporter was seen inserting the facts of a recent news story early Thursday morning.

“Okay, so we just slip in the location, the people involved, the facts of the story, and there we go,” he muttered as he fiddled with the buttons and dials on the machine. “Spin for five minutes on high, and we’ll have ourselves a news story.”

Now, just how stupid do you have to be not to comprehend that this is a joke? Ah, but those left-biased communications powers like CNN and Facebook stick together, so Facebook, because bias makes you stupid, and if you tended to be unethical and stupid anyway it can really make you stupid, thought this was a real effort to mislead facebook readers and pick up votes for Donald Trump or something, so it came down on the Bee like the Spanish Inquisition:

That’s right, Snopes checked whether CNN had actually purchased a giant washing machine! See?

It is similarly false that my uncle crossed a raccoon with a kangaroo and got a fur coat with pockets.  This isn’t false. This is called “a joke.” Ah, but Snopes feels that the giant washing machine tale was jussst a little too believable, so it is sinister enough for Facebook to take action:

Although it should have been obvious that the Babylon Bee piece was just a spoof of the ongoing political brouhaha over alleged news media “bias” and “fake news,” some readers missed that aspect of the article and interpreted it literally. But the site’s footer gives away the Babylon Bee’s nature by describing it as “Your Trusted Source For Christian News Satire,” and the site has been responsible for a number of other (usually religious-themed) spoofs that have been mistaken for real news articles.

If you click on “spoofs” in this part of the Snopes article, you discover that these were among the Bee stories that Snopes felt needed definitive sleuthing.

Did Jim Bakker Say ‘Trump Was Merely Sharing the Gospel with That Porn Star’?

Is Playing Christmas Music Before Thanksgiving Now a Federal Crime?

 Was Joel Osteen  Recently Horrified To Learn About The Crucifixion?

Joel Osteen Sails Luxury Yacht Through Flooded Houston to Pass out Copies of His Book?

California Christians Must Register Bibles as Assault Weapons?

Verdict: Both Facebook and Snopes think that Facebook readers and the public generally are idiots, and neither has the common sense and discretion to discern when a gag is so ridiculous that it cannot reasonably be blamed on its creator if some mouth-breathing clod believes it.

This fiasco has a nice punchline: the Babylon Bee’s latest story was this:

Snopes Launches New Website To Fact-Check Snopes Fact Checks

U.S.—Popular fact-checking site Snopes.com rolled out a brand-new spinoff site designed to fact-check previously published fact checks on Snopes.com, reliable sources confirmed Tuesday.

 The new site is called “Snopes Snopes,” and will comb through the original site’s articles in order to label them “True,” “False,” or “Clearly Biased,” assisting readers in discerning fact from fiction on the popular site which claims to debunk urban legends, hoax news stories, and satire.

“Our readers can now determine when a Snopes.com fact check is clearly erroneous or biased, with our help,” one Snopes fact-checker told reporters. “Rest assured that we will remain as neutral as possible when fact checking our own articles.”

“Up until now, the question everyone was asking was, ‘Who Snopes the Snopes?’ and now we have an answer,” she added.

At publishing time, Snopes editors had confirmed plans to launch a third site designed to fact-check its own fact checks of its own fact checks.

What do you think? Is this the new title-holder of The Dumbest Ethics Story Ever Told, or does the title still belong with the saga of Isabelle Lassiter, who called the police and filed a charge of sexual assault against a Japanese chef who jokingly squirted water on her using a plastic toy in the form of a little boy where the water was emitted from the “weiner” area, though, as the responding officer stated, “I observed the toy to have no penis and just a hole for the water to shoot out.” The plastic little boy was briefly taken into custody.


Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Facebook, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/21/17: Fake Bravery, Mysterious Hate Speech, Vindictive Ex-Presidents, And The Trans Fold-Out

I confess: I miss New England…

Good Morning.

Thank God it’s Saturday.

1 The definition of “courage” being used to describe some of the late-to-the-party revelations of Harvey Weinstein’s victims is more than a bit off.  For example, Academy Award  winner Lupita Nyong’o’s op-ed, in which she talked about her own harassment by Weinstein, was hailed by Kerry Washington, Ellen DeGeneris and others, including singer Janelle Monae, who wrote, “My hero. Thank you for your bravery. Thank you for using your voice.”

Bravery? Nyong’o’s piece could be fairly described as kicking a dead horse when he’s down. There is no danger to Nyong’o now in joining the throng accusing and exposing Weinstein, whose head is on a metaphorical pike in Hollywood. Indeed, claiming victimhood now acquires sympathy and declares that one is joining one’s peers in a virtuous quest. There is nothing wrong with her op-ed or the fact that she wrote it, but it isn’t brave. It would have been brave if she had written it while Weinstein had power…and was still using that power to intimidate and exploit actresses

2.  A recent quiz in the New York Times threw some light, or maybe ice water, on the concept of “hate speech.” The quiz asked Times readers to judge whether a statement was hate speech, and contrasted the results with Facebook’s hate speech policy, and the kind of statement would be removed from the social media platform as violating its standards. Facebook defines hate speech as:

  1. An attack, such as a degrading generalization or slur.
  2. Targeting a “protected category” of people, including one based on sex, race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, and serious disability or disease.

Here were the samples; Times readers were asked to vote yes or no to the question, “Would this statement meet Facebook’s criteria for hate speech?”

A. “Why do Indians always smell like curry?! They stink!”

B. “Poor black people should still sit at the back of the bus.”

C. “White men are assholes.”

D. “Keep ‘trans’ men out of girls bathrooms!”

E. “Female sports reporters need to be hit in the head with hockey pucks.”

F. I’ll never trust a Muslim immigrant… they’re all thieves and robbers.”

The Answers:

A. Facebook: Hate speech. Times readers: 75% yes, 25% no.

B. Facebook: Not hate speech. Times readers: 92% yes, 8% no.

C. Facebook: Hate speech. Times readers: 48% yes, 52% no.

D. Facebook: It depends on the context. Times readers: 57% yes, 43% no.

E. Facebook: Not hate speech. Times readers: 80% yes, 20% no.

F. Facebook: Not hate speech. Times readers: 91% yes, 9% no.

Ethics Alarms: the concept of hate speech is a dangerous, intentionally vague, manufactured category of speech pointing to restrictions of free expression. There is hateful speech, insulting speech, bigoted speech, biased speech, cruel speech, uncivil speech and rude speech, but all of it is still protected speech.

The tell is C. Times readers only voted that one statement wasn’t hate speech, the one that denigrated all white men. Of course they did. By Facebook standards, that vote is hate speech. I think.

Facebook can ban whatever speech it chooses, of course. The fact that it engages in this kind of vague, inconsistent, bias-laden censorship, however, tells us how much we should trust it: Not at all.

3. Speaking of bias, the Trump-haters in the news media—which is to say, the news media—were thrilled that both Barack Obama and George W. Bush delivered, on the same day, statements that were taken as rebukes to President Trump without mentioning him by name. Both Presidents were treading in serious hypocrisy mine fields, and neither were called on it sufficiently. Bush spoke of “fading confidence” in free markets: Gee, who was President when insufficiently regulated capitalists crashed the world economy? Obama, even more cynically, pointed to social, racial and economic schisms after his eight years of aggravating and exploiting them. Both Bush and Obama—and for them, this is a despicable ethics foul—conflated illegal immigration with immigration, to the seal-flipper applause of the open-border crowd.

The significance of these dual attacks is less than it appears. Bothex-POTUSes are motivated by personal animus and as well as personal bias. President Trump is doing an excellent job, as promised, of erasing Obama’s few substantive achievements and policy initiatives from the record, and he has only been at it for less than a year. Are you a a successful President if the primary lasting effect of your administration is reversal of progress in racial reconciliation? Obama’s enmity is predictable, but hardly based on objective consideration. Bush’s attack is even less so.  Candidate Trump’s attacks on President Bush’s brother were nasty and personal; the entire family has made no secret of the fact that it won’t forget, and hates the President’s guts/

The real ethics lesson, as well as a practical policy lesson is that being gratuitously mean to people isn’t just unethical, it is incompetent for a leader. This is one more area where the President shows a self-destructive lack of control and prudence as well as a flat learning curve. At a recent event, Paul Ryan, another target of Trump’s personal insults, mocked the President. John McCain has clearly decided that he will do whatever he can to undermine him until his last breath. Not only do the various public figures Trump needlessly insults and attacks occasionally have the opportunity to strike back in substantive ways, they also have supporters who will side with them even when those strikes are unfair or petty.

Deliberately making enemies is an example of life incompetence. It is so for a librarian or a short-order cook; it is even more so for a leader. It just makes it harder for you to do your job.

Why would you do that?

4. And now that Hugh Heffner is dead, Playboy is trying to make him roll over in his grave by announcing that it will have its first transgender Playmate.

Is this Ick, or ethics? Presumably, if the magazine has any integrity at all, Playboy chooses its Playmates according to their aesthetic qualities, not their medical history. These are women. Stipulated: French model Ines Rau is a woman, now.  Why is her selection focusing on how she got to be one?

Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it? Rau wasn’t chosen because she is a beautiful woman, though I am not saying that she isn’t. She was chosen because she is transgender, and beautiful enough. This was affirmative action. Reports say she is honored. Why isn’t she insulted? If President Obama told Sonia Sotomayor that she was being nominated as a Supreme Court Justice not because she is especially qualified, but because she is Hispanic, would Sotomayor have been pleased?

Rau is being exploited, as Playboy treats the transgender social issue as a fad, to sell magazines and get publicity. Predictably, many of Playboy’s readers are objecting for the wrong reasons: they are bigots. Playboy’s social media response is telling: “Standing on the right side of history.” This is, as Ethics Alarms has pointed out before, a facile dodge and a rationalization. “We’re on the right side of history” is weak variation of the Number 1 rationalization on the list, “Everybody does it.” It means “Everybody’s going to do it, just you wait and see.”

Color me dubious. Heterosexual men who buy girlie magazines are going to find transgender women more beautiful and sexually arousing because they once were biologically male?

Sure, Playboy. Whatever you say.


Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media, language, Leadership, Marketing and Advertising, Quizzes, Social Media, Workplace

From “The Pazuzu Excuse” Files: The Justly-Fired TV Reporter’s Lament

Colleen Campbell, a local  Philadelphia television reporter, got herself fired for an obscenity-packed rant berating a cop  outside a Philadelphia comedy club. What she didn’t know was that the whole, ugly thing was filmed. You know that rule that says “ethics is what you do when nobody’s looking except your embarrassed companion and a policeman who you have no respect for anyway because he’s just a cop? That’s the one Colleen whiffed on.

Campbell ae was kicked out of the club for “loud whispering” throughout the show. Once outside, she denied being disruptive to an officer who removed her. The officer replied that Campbell and her male friend needed to just leave the scene. The reporter replied, charmingly,

Or what? Or what, motherfucker? Lick my asshole. How about that? Fucking piece of shit. That’s why nobody likes fucking police … idiots in this fucking town.”

Campbell, 28, didn’t know her act was caught on camera and posted to Facebook until after she received word from the station that she had been fired. Now she says…

“That’s not me or how I talk or act or anything at all…I don’t know what to do. I feel ruined and embarrassed for me and my family….I feel awful…That’s not me or how I speak or how I talk or how I was raised. I had to delete all my social media, because I’m getting threats….I wanna apologize to the officer. I don’t remember the whole altercation at all. I remember feeling attacked. I would never talk like that. It was like watching a whole different me.”

The Kathy Griffin episode sparked several of those currently popular blog posts and web essays about how social media destroys people who make “one mistake” and if it could happen to them, it can happen to you. Ethics Alarms has had several of these posts in the past, always about regular citizens who had an ugly e-mail distributed to the universe by an angry girl friend, or a tasteless or misunderstood tweet to a friend gone viral. No question: these web lynchings are out of proportion to the offense. Continue reading


Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Journalism & Media, Social Media, Workplace

Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Massachusetts State Rep Michelle DuBois (D-Plymouth)

What is the thinking of people like Massachusetts state rep Michelle DuBois, who authored the above Facebook post? Do they think? Can they think? Aiding an illegal immigrant in evading authorities is obstruction of justice. Do the Duboises of the world really and truly regard facilitating illegal immigration as the equivalent of participating in the Underground Railroad? How did they reach such a fdoolish, counter-factual and warped opinion? Yes, the ACLU comes very close to crossing the line with its published advice to illegals, but it doesn’t actively try to foil legal government action. Even sanctuary cities that pledge not to cooperate with ICE are not actively interfering with the agency, or so they can argue with varying persuasiveness.  Not DuBois, though. As a an elected legislator, she can pass laws, but she can’t declare those she doesn’t like null and void, and defy the rule of law in so doing.

This is obstructing justice. DuBois’s argument to the contrary was beyond disingenuous:

“Passing information along that is already all over the community not only lets the people I represent know what is happening. It lets ICE know that everyone in Brockton is aware of their intended raid if there was one.”

Oh, I see. She made everyone in Brockton aware of the ICE raid so ICE would know that all of Brockton was aware  of it!

Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson referred to DuBois while testifying before lawmakers on Capitol Hill, saying, “This is the most outrageous, outrageous example of what’s going on across the United States that’s undermining my job and every other law enforcement officer in the United States.”

Dubois belongs right along side Oregon judge Monica Herranz, who allegedly allowed an illegal immigrant to slip out a back door to avoid ICE officials waiting for him, in a jail, awaiting trial. Continue reading


Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Facebook, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Leadership, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President

Ethics Dunce: Secret Service Agent Kerry O’Grady

Here is a Facebook post by O’Grady, the special agent in charge of the Secret Service’s Denver district, who oversees coordination with Washington-based advance teams for all Presidential trips to the area:



This was in October, and was seen by her Facebook followers including current and former Secret Service agents. In addition to being a declaration of disloyalty, the social media post is  a Hatch Act violation, which among other things prohibits a federal employee from “posting a comment to a blog or a social media site that advocates for or against a partisan political party, candidate for partisan political office,or partisan political group,” and also from using  social media to “distribute, send or forward content that advocates for or against a partisan political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group.”

Never mind that, though. Continue reading


Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Public Service

From The Ethics Alarms “Double Standard” Files: Now THIS Is A Hate Crime! Wait…What’s That? There’s No Evidence Yet? I Stand Corrected!

Boy, some people see race in everything...

Boy, some people see race in everything

From Fox News yesterday:

Chicago investigators are questioning four African-Americans after a Facebook Live video shows a group of people torturing a white mentally disabled man while someone yelled “F*** Trump!” and “F*** white people!”

Chicago police were made aware of the video Tuesday afternoon. A young African American woman streamed the video live on Facebook showing at least four people holding the young white man hostage.

In the video, the victim is repeatedly kicked and hit, his scalp is cut, all while he is tied up with his mouth taped shut….The victim is … believed to have been held hostage and tortured in an apartment in the 3400 block of West Lexington on the West Side, Guglielmi said.

(That’s “Fuck Trump!” and “Fuck white people!”, just in case you thought the phrases were “Free Trump!” or “Feel white people!”)

Now here is how the Associated Press initially reported the story:

Chicago police say they are investigating a video circulating on social media that shows several people beating a man at a residence. Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said at a news conference Wednesday that four suspects are in custody. Formal charges have not been filed.

Johnson says the victim, who has “mental health challenges,” is recovering. Johnson calls the video “sickening,” and Police Cmdr. Kevin Duffin says the suspects made “stupid decisions.” Officers were called to a residence on the city’s West Side Tuesday evening where they found signs of a struggle and damaged property.

Videos of the alleged incident were posted on social media. Police say it is too soon to make a determination if the attack was racially motivated.

“Police say it is too soon to make a determination if the attack was racially motivated.”




There it is! The first head explosion of 2017!

[A brief pause while I mop, scoop, and re-fill…] Continue reading


Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Journalism & Media, Kaboom!, Law & Law Enforcement, Race

Ethics Alarms Presents “Fake News” Friday! Episode I: Poynter’s Code of Principles


Poynter is a serious and justly respected  nonprofit school for journalism and journalism ethics organization. Naturally, it has been drawn into the “fake news” debate, which is unfortunate, since the issue itself has arisen not so much as part of a much-need effort to purge the new and old news media of biased and misleading news reporting, but as part of partisan attempt by the mainstream news media and others to find some explanation, any explanation, for Donald Trump’s election that doesn’t involve a genuine public rejection of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Poynter, as far as I’ve been able to determine, is scrupulously non-partisan, or perhaps hides its Democrat tilt better than the rest of its profession. Now it is being used by those who are not so trustworthy.

Poynter was in the news yesterday as a result of Facebook’s announcement that it will start “fact-checking, labeling, and burying fake news and hoaxes in its News Feed. Mark Zuckerberg announced that his social media platform will collaborate with a small list of media organizations, including Snopes, Factcheck.org, ABC News, and PolitiFact to accomplish this, and noted that these are part of an international fact-checking network under the guidance of Poynter.

Here’s a fact to check: Snopes, Factcheck.org, ABC News, the Associated Press, and PolitiFact are all partisan-biased operations to a greater or lesser extent. Facebook itself is a partisan biased organization. That Facebook would blandly cite three of these four to reassure anyone but the Democratic National Committee is proof positive that this is a cynical, untrustworthy exercise. Continue reading


Filed under Facebook, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Professions, Research and Scholarship, The Internet