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Social media shoutfest rages on

Posted on June 6, 2019 by Vauxhall Advance

It’s a noble but most-likely wrong opinion that people want accuracy, context or a broad range of opinions on the news of the day.

Even a quick look at social media these days — several years after it was generally agreed that it was warping societal discourse — shows that a large number of people simply would rather be right.

They want their opinions proven correct, want to feel powerful and, by shouting down all others, by gosh, they are going to prove it.

This week in Ottawa an international coalition of senior government officials, including those from Canada, the United Kingdom and France, held meetings to hold technology and social media companies to account.

Misinformation and conduct on social media is a threat to western conceptions of democracy, they say, but one needn’t think so grand to find good examples.

In era where things are better left unsaid, it is better to let the assertions on social media stand.

This all follows reports this week that Facebook deleted several billion accounts already this year, believing them to be fake or set up for nefarious reasons.

For perspective, the planet only has about 7.5 billion people in total.

Two weeks ago, a news reporters’ tweet regarding local council’s decision to boycott a national cities conference in Quebec City over that province’s stance of petroleum development received a flurry of activity online.

So high were the numbers that it was about four-times the level of activity than a tweet last year breaking news about a million-square-foot marijuana growing facility.
Some came from well known locals or those whose profiles appeared legitimate.

Many more, perhaps even a majority, fall into a hazier category — no names, no locations, and no opinions not extreme or confrontational. They constantly harangue political leaders or activists on whatever their issue, and that’s it.

No complaints about the weather, no pictures of pets.

One such account has pushed out 21,000 unique messages in the month of May alone, or about one every 90 seconds night and day over the period.

Skipping the issue entirely, however, was another account that purports to be from Medicine Hat, but pushes endless content about the European immigration crisis and the climate change lie.

It’s likely these are computer generated accounts — bots — or manned by a person or group with a clear but unstated motives.

They’re not hard to spot, if you care to look.

However, a growing number of social media users appear happy to ape this behaviour, or at least put up with it as long it somehow reconfirms what they might suspect.
National governments are left sitting at international conferences trying to figure out how to regulate or stop this.

Newspapers and reporters on the other hand are left figuring out how to perform our mandate to provide facts and a balance in reporting during this time. However, how do you give something to people that they don’t want?

That’s the real question, isn’t it?

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