The Psychology of Fact-Checking

Distortions and outright lies by politicians and pundits have become so common that major news outlets like the Associated Press, CNN, BBC, Fox News, and Washington Post routinely assign journalists and fact-checkers to verify claims made during stump speeches and press briefings. The motivation to uncover falsehoods and misleading statements taken out of context is laudable. But when it comes to real-world complexities, the trouble is that people often see different things when looking at the same event, a phenomenon repeatedly documented by psychologists.

Laboratory studies reveal that, when shown a video of a group of protesters, people see either a peaceful protest or an unruly mob blocking pedestrian access, depending on their sociopolitical beliefs. The world outside the lab shows similar biased perception: For example, 68 percent of Republicans consider the videotaped demonstrations in Portland, Ore., Kenosha, Wisc., and New York City to be riots, versus only 30 percent of Democrats, according to a Fox News poll released in September. Journalists and fact-checkers are human beings subject to the same psychological biases as everyone else—and their analyses of what constitute “facts” is affected by their own political and ideological values, resulting in what psychologists term selective perception.

Consider the claim that during an interview with the progressive activist Ady Barkan, Joe Biden stated he favors defunding the police. This allegation has been dismissed as taken

— source | J. Stephen Ceci, M. Wendy Williams | Oct 25, 2020

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Mom sues social media giants for allegedly driving her 11-year-old daughter to suicide

Amid the ongoing debate over the effects social media has on teens and children, a Connecticut mother filed a lawsuit last month against Meta and Snap for allegedly causing the tragic death of her 11-year-old daughter.

In the lawsuit, mom Tammy Rodriguez claims that the “defective design, negligence and unreasonable dangerous features” of Meta and Snap’s products led her daughter, Selena Rodriguez, to die by suicide last July.

Meta Platforms Inc. is the parent company of Instagram and Facebook, and Snap Inc. is the parent company of Snapchat.

The wrongful-death lawsuit, filed on Jan. 20 in the U.S. District Court for the San Francisco Division, alleges that Selena suffered “severe mental harm, leading to

— source | 4 Feb 2022

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Border Agent’s Secret Facebook Group Caught

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has opened an investigation into the posting of racist and xenophobic messages by current and former Border Patrol agents on a private Facebook group. More than 9,500 people are part of the group, which was exposed by ProPublica on Monday. The group’s Facebook page is filled with racist, homophobic, anti-immigrant and misogynistic content about migrants, as well as some lawmakers and other high-profile people.

One post contained a photoshopped image of Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez being sexually assaulted by President Trump. In another thread, members of the group made fun of a video of a man trying to carry a child through a rapid river in a plastic bag. Someone commented, quote, “At least it’s already in a trash bag,” unquote. Asked by a reporter to respond to her depiction in the Facebook post, Congressmember Ocasio-Cortez said it was, quote, “indicative of the culture” she observed inside the migrant prison she had just visited, and said she did not feel safe around the Border Patrol officers.

— source | Jul 03, 2019

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Want to delete your social media

For more than a decade we’ve been deeply immersed in a love affair with social media. And the thought of ending things can be painful. But like any relationship, if social media is no longer making you happy – and if curating your online persona is exhausting instead of fun – it might be time to say goodbye.

Late last year, Meta (previously Facebook) came under intense scrutiny after leaked documents revealed the company was fully aware of the negative impact its products, Instagram in particular, can have on users’ mental health.

Meta went straight into damage control. But it seemed no one was particularly surprised by the news – not even teenage girls, who Meta identified as most at risk. Was the leak just confirming what we already suspected: that social media has the potential to be much more harmful than helpful?

How did our once carefree relationship with social media turn sour? And perhaps most importantly, can (or should) it be salvaged?

— source | Sharon Horwood | Feb 14, 2022

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Leaving Social Media for Parts Unknown

It took me a year to make a rash decision.

The decision to leave social media, I mean really quitting (not pausing, taking breaks, silently checking here and there — quitting), came rather unceremoniously for something where I had spent lots of energy and time over the past five years. FIVE YEARS. Unless you are 80plus, five years is a long time for any person to think about the past. Besides, if you are 80plus, five years is an even longer time if you look to the future.

A friend had sent me a mail: Why not quit? Why not, indeed. Ten minutes later and over 6000 followers, plus who knows how many thousand tweets, were gone. Just like that. The account was deactivated. I’ve simply done it. Smellosopher, my handle, did not exist anymore. In 30 days, if I did not log in again, and the account will be gone — for real. 30 days. Nice try, Twitter. But I mean it.

Leaving social media, complaining about its detrimental effect on health and democracy, has become somewhat fashionable recently – and an excellent way to make some money, too

— source | Ann-Sophie Barwich | Jan 28, 2021

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No Safe Level of Use: Strategies for Post-Social Media

In a previous post, The 11th reason to delete your social media account, I talked about reasons for leaving social media—not the reasons that we all agree are “good reasons to leave social media”, but the actual reasons that got me, at least, to leave. In this post, I want to talk about what you do next.

The intended audience for this post is academics, journalists, intellectuals, writers, and artists who are used to using (ad-supported) social media to share their work and interact with their colleagues and the wider public. You may be writing for a public. You may be part of a community or a collaboration too big for a CC list. You may be teaching a course—some of this thinking was spurred by the fact that we’re working on a new open-access humanities analytics course that’s taking place primarily online. To be clear, the following is solely my own thinking, not that of my colleagues, and is in no way an official policy of anything.

No Safe Level of Use / The World’s Tiniest Open Source Violin / Dealing with the devil / Small is beautiful

No Safe Level of Use

— source | Simon DeDeo | 21 May 2021

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TekFog: BJP’s Cyber Weapon to Target Citizens

An online news portal The Wire recently published a three-part investigative report on a sophisticated secret app called TekFog. This is used by BJYM’s (the youth wing of the BJP) IT Cell to automate its online hate campaigns. According to the investigation, the app can “hijack” WhatsApp accounts of people without their knowledge or consent and use these accounts in automated campaigns. These campaigns send hate messages on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook and even morph URLs of real news stories to redirect the readers to fake news stories.

It has been well known that BJP had invested huge sums of money in building a vast online social media troll army that it uses to spread its divisive misinformation campaigns and troll and abuse voices opposed to the BJP and the Modi government. What is new about these revelations is the sophistication of the tools at their disposal, hacking of WhatsApp

— source | Bappa Sinha | 05 Feb 2022

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Inside the Secret Border Patrol Facebook Group

Inside the Secret Border Patrol Facebook Group Where Agents Joke About Migrant Deaths and Post Sexist Memes

Members of a secret Facebook group for current and former Border Patrol agents joked about the deaths of migrants, discussed throwing burritos at Latino members of Congress visiting a detention facility in Texas on Monday and posted a vulgar illustration depicting Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez engaged in oral sex with a detained migrant, according to screenshots of their postings.

In one exchange, group members responded with indifference and wisecracks to the post of a news story about a 16-year-old Guatemalan migrant who died in May while in custody at a Border Patrol station in Weslaco, Texas. One member posted a GIF of Elmo with the quote, “Oh well.” Another responded with an image and the words “If he dies, he dies.”

— source | A.C. Thompson ‌| Jul 1, 2019

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Meta, Google grilled over misinformation and cyberbullying, Twitter next

An Australian government committee on Thursday grilled Meta (formerly Facebook) and Google about the spread of misinformation and cyberbullying across their platforms. Google’s director of government affairs and public policy, Lucinda Longcroft, was asked by the committee about misleading Covid-19 information on YouTube, and was specifically shown at least nine United Australia Party (UAP) ads containing Covid misinformation. Twitter was set to appear before the committee on Friday.

Meta representatives also appeared before the committee and were grilled about the death and rape threats directed towards Australian presenter Erin Molan and her young daughter on Facebook. Molan had testified earlier that she submitted a request on Facebook for those threats to be removed from the platform. “In response to the request, Facebook sent an automated response that the content would remain online”.

— source | Jan 20, 2022

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Capitol attack panel signals loss of patience with big tech

Cardboard cutouts of Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Twitter’s ex-CEO Jack Dorsey dressed as Capitol insurrectionists are displayed outside the US Capitol. Photograph: Shutterstock

The House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol has ordered several social media firms to hand over data relating to the attack, a significant step toward transparency that could have broader privacy implications.

The committee on Thursday subpoenaed Twitter, Meta, Alphabet and Reddit for private messages exchanged on the platforms about the attack as well as information regarding moderation policies that allowed communities to remain online even as they incited violence in early 2021.

Congressman Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the select committee, said the committee was seeking to answer two key questions: how the spread of misinformation contributed to the violent attack, and what steps social media companies took to prevent their platforms from “being breeding grounds for radicalizing people to violence”.

The subpoenas mark an escalation in the committee’s efforts to get answers from the tech companies. Thompson added in his letter that the subpoenas came after “months of

— source | Kari Paul | 14 Jan 2022

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