Let’s all clean up our Facebook feeds

Here’s one small, obvious way we might make the world a better place. Let’s all clean up our FB feeds of ideologically congenial, but dodgy or crackpot news stories from fringe or politically extreme websites. Many of these stories are untrue, deceptive, or otherwise misleading. They lower the quality of conversation, and they polarize us more from each other. As Timothy Lee reports in Vox, fake news is a real problem on Facebook in many ways.

Any too-good-to-check story that perfectly confirms your biases and shows the evils of political adversaries deserves an extra look. Much of the dreck that crosses my feed is from rightwing websites hawking doctored Wikileaks emails, some story about how Michelle Obama hates police, etc. But there are certainly crackpot leftwing equivalents, too. There are enough real Trump scandals. There’s no need to cry wolf on unverified charges and the like.

Here’s another modest suggestion. Before posting a story that seems to check out, we might even look at other stories on the site your friends will see if they click through. If there’s lots of obviously simplistic propaganda or offensive material nearby, you might want to take that into account before posting.

Author: Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has served on three expert committees of the National Academies of Science. His recent research appears in such journals as Addiction, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. He writes regularly on HIV prevention, crime and drug policy, health reform, and disability policy for American Prospect, tnr.com, and other news outlets. His essay, "Lessons from an Emergency Room Nightmare" was selected for the collection The Best American Medical Writing, 2009. He recently participated, with zero critical acclaim, in the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamentaschen debate.

One thought on “Let’s all clean up our Facebook feeds”

  1. I've given up on Facebook. It's painful for me to see that people who've been very helpful to me in the past are also screaming, hateful ignoramuses. As I recall from economics classes, "bad money drives out good". Since then, I've read that "bad information drives out good". I don't see this changing until humans become something other they are now, or at least get to experience the consequences of their choices. I'm just sad that I have to experience them as well.

Comments are closed.