November 15, 2018

Lies, Damn Lies, and Facebook

Back in July, when we were talking about Facebook and fake accounts and deleting pages and all that jazz, I asked this question:
Is it worse that we have fake accounts on social media promoting 'malign' influence' and divisiveness or that the American president does exactly the same thing on a daily basis?
In my mind, it's still valid. And we have some additional data to back it up. Check out this headline:

That's right: the folks at the Toronto Star have laboriously studied the words the president has tweeted, uttered and muttered, and has determined that, as of July,  5.1% of the time he talks, he lies. Seriously.

Here are some of the key points the study found:
That's a lot of dishonesty: Of all the words Trump said and tweeted as president as of July 1, 5.1% were part of a false claim. Expressed differently: Trump uttered a false word every 19.4 words.
Trump's dishonesty density is increasing: The issue isn't just that he's talking more these days. It's that what he's saying is less truthful.
Word count aside, his raw number of false claims has spiked: Trump made 2.9 false claims per day in 2017. He's made 5.1 false claims per day in 2018.
He is talking 20% more than he used to: Thought it's not the whole issue, some of the 2018 increase in false claims is indeed happening because Trump is speaking more.
It's a fun read, for sure; they include their methodology, sources and cool charts that show Trump ramping up the lying as time goes by.

Still, the Star's lie count is lower than some others. For example, the Washington Post's Fact Checker count is over 6,000 - through October 30, 2018.

I have no idea what the number would be now, given that we have the whole explosion of lies surrounding the mid-terms.

And Veterans Day, and the weather in Paris.

And his attacks on French President Macron. 

And his attacks on Robert Mueller.  

And of course his ridiculous lies about not knowing Mark Whitaker, the man he just appointed as the acting AG after Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III was forced to resign. 

And his attack on California as an entire town was destroyed by fire. 

And -- well, you get the drift, right?

So, I ask again, what's worse? Facebook not protecting people from themselves, and folks at the company acting badly towards each other as the news about fake news broke, or the lying, rude, belligerent, childish person who was elected president of the US?  

If we are going to demand that tech companies do everything in their power to keep us from being exposed to fake news and influence and lies, we simply cannot allow the president to continue having unfettered access to the airwaves. 

Can we?

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