On the Facebook truth squad

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I got my first one in before 11 a.m. today.

A woman I sometimes squabble with on Facebook posted a story from the Daily Mail about a US border patrol agent killed by rock-throwing immigrants trying to cross into Texas.

I clicked on it to find a thinly sourced story about an agent who had died from undisclosed wounds suffered while on patrol in Texas — published almost exactly a year ago, on Nov. 17, 2017.

So I mentioned this in the comment thread, because that’s what I do now: Fact-check Facebook, one lie at a time.

Last week I pointed out to a rabid conservative Facebook friend that the meme he posted had been researched and disproven by Politifact — the same person who a couple months ago needed to be reminded that the county, and not the city, funds public schools.

I’ve tried to explain the nature of antifa — antifascist, or course, which makes everyone who falsely vilifies them sort of pro-fa — pointed out bogus news sources and tried, really tried, to help people understand how the Republican Party changed after the Southern Strategy.

I identify fallacies and propaganda, point out intellectual inconsistencies and, sometimes, even correct people’s grammar.

I use Snopes, Politifact, blue-chip news outlets, source documents and databases like the Census — though a couple years ago, when arguing with a Facebook troll who insisted that Randolph County had become majority Hispanic, recent Census data was not convincing enough.

I weed out catfish — fake Facebook accounts used for trolling — by digging for a minute or two to see if they are real. I’ve found that a surprising number of active commenters on local pages don’t actually exist.

I don’t do it all day, of course, or even every day — though there’s more than enough fact-checking to be done on my own Facebook feed. And I can’t say it’s doing much good, because the flow of misinformation and disinformation coming across my feed is as steady and shameless as ever.

You can’t make people understand something they don’t want to.

I do it, I suppose, because I still believe the truth matters when we’re trying to understand the world around us. And sooner or later, it must rear its smug face.

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