Friday, September 13, 2019
Tech & The Web

Fact-Checking Friends on Social Media Doesn’t Always Make You Popular

One disadvantage of social media is nearly anyone can say anything. That means fact-checking friends becomes a tricky exercise.

There are times when I feel the need for fact-checking friends of mine who go on social media and post blatant falsehoods.

Not only blatant but easily disproven falsehoods.

Recently, a friend of mine from high school posted a shot of the U.S. Capitol from about 2014 or 2015 or so and alongside it, a photo from this year’s July 4th celebration.

He talked about visiting Washington, D.C. during a massive renovation of the U.S. Capitol dome that began during President Barack Obama’s second term in 2014.

He then suggested that the scaffolding that surrounded the dome remained there for a while. But he then added he was “pretty sure” President Donald Trump had that scaffolding down within months of taking office. He wrapped up the posts with this curious line: “So many Little things that we prob never thought about.”

When another friend of his challenged him on the notion that a president has anything to do personally with a renovation of a federal building, he added this:

“pretty sure was more of how he feels about our capital not for a renovation. Either way s*** got finished quick once he took office.”

The first he had to have been Obama and the implication is clearly that Obama kept the scaffolding up as a sign of disrespect for the U.S. Capitol. The second he, in his mind, had to have been Trump, since he believed Trump was the one who had the scaffolding removed.

Sometimes, fact-checking friends becomes necessary.

The first story I Googled about the capitol renovation gave me all the facts I needed. It literally took three seconds to Google it and find that link.

Three seconds.

I then left the link in the comment, explaining that the renovation began in 2014, during Obama’s second term. The scaffolding started going up on Sept. 29 of that year. But the project was completed and the scaffolding removed by Nov. 15, 2016.

By that date, the 2016 presidential election was over. But Trump wasn’t inaugurated until January 2017.

I provided a link to BizJournals.com that included a photo gallery showing the condition of the dome at the time the renovation began. The article, dated Nov. 15, 2016, explains it was the first major overhaul of the dome in 50 years. By the condition shown in the photos, it was overdue.

He had nothing, therefore, with “getting s*** done” in terms of removing the scaffolding.

My friend claimed to the other challenger that he didn’t have an agenda, and was instead merely trying to point out how beautiful the Capitol dome looked when he was back in town on the Fourth.

His remarks, however, clearly demonstrated an anti-Obama, pro-Trump agenda.

He did apologize after I gave him the link and said he would adjust his wording. (And to his credit, he did.)

It’s one thing to dislike someone from the opposite party. It’s quite another to blast without a shred of real evidence. Dropping little innuendos that are so easily proven false should be an embarrassment.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to faze either the dropper or those who read it and see it disproved.

It’s a shame our public discourse has degenerated to this point. But there are times when fact-checking friends can at least help prevent others from being caught up in a juvenile excitement over misinformation.

Even when you know it won’t have any effect on changing the original poster’s mind or opinion.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.