How Facebook broke America

Originally published at:


I feel like people bear some responsibility here too. My first instinct on seeing any story on Facebook, or anywhere else for that matter, is to run it through some internal filters in my brain. Does this story sound plausible? Does it make sense? Where is this story coming from? Do I know them? Are they reliable? Is this bullshit? If it passes through all those filters, then I click the link, read the full story, and then go see if I can find a different view of the story somewhere else. Then I make up my mind whether to believe it in full, in part, or not at all. This isn’t hard, either. And it doesn’t take long. It just requires a healthy, but not excessive, amount of skepticism.

The left are not immune to fake news, either. Almost all of the people I know who believe anti-vax and anti-GMO nonsense are on the left, politically. I think there’s a tendency of those of us on the left to believe we are inoculated from bullshit, but we are not.


The desperation of 21st Americans for a simulacrum of social connection was apparently a powerful enough force that they marched in lockstep from the open Internet back into an AOL-style walled garden, surrendering their privacy as they entered. And the right-wing snakes were waiting for them.

The kind of person who gets his news via Facebook is by definition the kind of person who’ll be easily duped by disreputable or malicious news outlets and/or advertisers.


I take any comment that begins with a variation of “here’s why I am better than them” yet purports to be supportive of ‘them’, with a grain of salt.


It’s not that hard absolutely speaking, but it’s a lot harder then not doing this. Don’t get me wrong, I try to take the same precautions, it takes a lot more effort then just clicking the like or share button.

The thing is, that is not really the hard part, the hard part is seeing people you know spout shit (painful finding out someone you consider a friend is either dumb or a asshole), confronting them (socially uncomfortable at it’s best), and then doing the whole thing all over again for that new bullshit meme they forward with 10 seconds of effort on their part (and “not that long” but definitely a few minutes of work on your part).

And then after you did all this, had a discussion with them, found clear evidence of the falseness of multiple of their arguments, which they agreed with you on. Then a week later you see them posting some new clearly false bullshit again.

You may be stronger then me, this fucking kills me.


Everyone who is inoculated from bullshit is on the left, so there’s that…


The amazing thing is how the evil Russkies could swing the election by spending only $100,000 compared to $6,800,000,000 by Americans.


First of all, I absolutely do not believe I’m better than anyone else. I’ve fallen for bs too. I tried to learn from it. Second, what do you think should be done about this problem? Because I don’t see Facebook fixing it. And I don’t see the government regulating it. Neither has any particular reason to, other than out of a sense of ethical responsibility, and if they had any of that, we wouldn’t be here in the first place.


That you know of today. It wasn’t long ago you thought they weren’t even on Facebook or Twitter.


There are people on the right who do the same thing as you and really try hard to avoid fake news.

They tend not to be Trump supporters though. But there are certainly moderate republicans who are not Trump supports, are not stupid, and read news skeptically. I’m not one of them, but I know they exist.


In terms of elusiveness those guys could give bigfoot a run for his money right about now.


I agree. I didn’t say there weren’t people on the right who can’t filter out the bs. Someone else did, but I didn’t.

1 Like

They’re out there, but for every one of them there’s fifty in lockstep behind behind Il Douche because “he’s making libtards and Demoncrats cry!”, and balkanize a little more everyday. Some are at the point where they’ll demonize Fox News as being ‘liberal’ because they were slightly hinting at being critical of Trump a couple times.


The real problem starts when you get into a bubble where those other sources you check have the same bias and post the same fake stories, while any source that may say something different is perceived as “fake news”. It’s not a new problem either, just look at all the propaganda before the Iraq war where most major media were happy to publish outright lies.


How does one come by these “leftist energy bars?” Do I have to haul my ass to a rainbow gathering, or can I just call up Soros?


Unfortunately, that bubble is inadvertently designed into Facebook. Most people tend to mostly be friends with mostly like minded people.


That’s true only to a certain extent. The channels of information are gradually but steadily being taken over by algorithmic manipulation that is the motherlode of unintended consequences. The human motives that led to it are not new, but we’re putting in an express lane to hell and cutting the brakes.

Facebook is only the most visible tip of the iceberg.


Facebook and Twitter are just one symptom of the real problem; the Dumbening - a intentional but covert effort on the part of big business and big government to make the average citizen mentally lazy, complacent, easily distracted and even more easily manipulated. It started after WWII, and it’s been wildly successful, as we can now see…


Both a symptom and a catalyst, IMHO.


Most of the people who are sane, rational, and what I would consider conservative tend to call themselves Libertarians, rather than Republicans.

Not that the Libertarians don’t have their own problems, but they do seem to be where people, both sane and too crazy for mainstream, are going to when they flee the GOP.