The Problem With Fact-Checking the Internet

The Problem With Fact-Checking the Internet→

Truth is hard:

[Facebook news feed manager Marra said:] ‘We haven’t tried to do anything around objective truth,’ Marra mused. ‘It’s a complicated topic, and probably not the first thing we would bite off.’

I can understand Marra’s reluctance to police stories based on fact. Even in a society with ready access to fact-checking sources, what constitutes ‘fact’ and ‘truth’ is highly problematic. It shouldn’t surprise us that, even in this age of Google, myths remain, because these myths feed into a deeper truth that we believe about the world – that ‘radical feminists’ are so ridiculous they want kids to eat vagina cookie, that a woman is so harassed by men that she is forced to don a third boob to escape them, that our first black President is so ungodly that he will excise all symbols of Christianity from our country.

And myth is often more meaningful than fact:

“In The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984), the novelist Milan Kundera wrote: ‘Without realising it, the individual composes his life according to the laws of beauty even in times of greatest distress.’ And maybe that is what internet memes accomplish. They take the confusing pieces of the world and order them into a mosaic (or news feed) that makes sense to us. And instead of curing us of our myth-making, the internet has made this practice even easier, no matter what pain it might cause to others.