Hacker News new | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
The Damage of Social Media (travelfordifference.com)
57 points by tfordifference on Nov 17, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 79 comments

There's something about the text-based medium in particular that encourages the total dissolution of empathy. If you took any two users flaming each other on Twitter and put them on a phone call, you'd see a quick return to civility (i.e. just voice without even going to video is probably enough in most cases).

These platforms should be modern mediums for sophisticated public discourse. Instead, the inclination to daemonize, defame, and bully is so strong that you get the opposite effect -- there's a total shutdown of public discourse as most people won't go on record to say anything that might not be consistent with the party line.

This doesn't change anyone's mind -- it just has the effect of normalizing discourse to the lowest common denominator and driving anyone with a deviant opinion behind closed doors. Soon enough, everyone is screaming into an echo chamber.

"There's something about the text-based medium in particular that encourages the total dissolution of empathy."

You're right. Two related things at play here, I think:

- Text-only is very low bandwidth. You don't get any of the body language, facial expressions, tone of voice that you get in person. emoticons and emoji are attempts to counter this

- Distance: You're protected from any negative reaction due to the effect of your messages.

There are actually social frameworks in place to compensate for both of these, but what passes for modern internet culture has largely rejected them.

Um. By which I mean to say:

Dear grzm,

Thank you for your recent post on HackerNews with regard to the limitations of empathy in a text based medium. I largely agree with your points.

However, I would like to draw your attention to an existing practice, specifically intended to compensate for the drawbacks you mention; this is the traditional letter-writing style. A fixed communication structure provides social cues which compensate for the lack of emotional side channels, as well as providing continual reassurance to the reader the communication is, in fact, desired.

Of course, this is not a panacea (indeed, it can be abused to great effect: I highly recommend reading some of the correspondence of Mark Twain!), but I am of the opinion that it can be effective in facilitating communication between people of differing opinions.

Thanking you for your attention and in anticipation of your reply, I remain,

Your sincerely,


PS. It's a been long time since I had an excuse to use the word 'facilitating'. Also, I had to look up the closing salutation. I also suspect that one of the main reasons this worked is because it's substantially more work. Tossing off a dismissive note in a couple of minutes is one thing; sitting down with a pen and composing a proper letter means you have to think about what you're saying.

Dear david-given,

I really enjoyed reading your follow-up post on HackerNews. Truly it provided a good example of an antiquated mode of communication which is nonetheless an excellent solution to the problem of conveying social cues over the internet.

I wanted to mention to you another aspect of this solution. Namely, the impersonal nature of the communication also provides some emotional distance between the writer and the reader. This can be valuable in the event that what is written is controversial in some way, as it communicates a desire to form some neutral ground where the conversation can be had. This helps facilitate an atmosphere of collaboration rather than the usual Internet attitude of spit-roasting of the reader.

I hope you find this message of some use or insight. I appreciate the time you've taken to read it.

Thank you, jschwartzi

Indeed, and I often find myself going out of my way to qualify forum posts in an attempt to prevent misinterpretations. It takes effort, though, and as you note, it's compensation. It can help, but I don't think it can full make up for it. I'm glad others are thinking about this, too.

That's a good point, but sadly, on Twitter, due to the realtime part, you'll get buried in accusations if you don't respond within seconds, so this isn't a realistic option.

>there's a total shutdown of public discourse as most people won't go on record to say anything that might not be consistent with the party line.

>...driving anyone with a deviant opinion behind closed doors. Soon enough, everyone is screaming into an echo chamber.

Funny, I've always thought downvotes on HN encouraged the same, albeit to a lesser degree. It's one thing to use downvotes as a moderation tool, submerging comments from others with whom you don't agree. It's another thing to "penalize" (FWIW) a person because you disagree with him/her. That it seems acceptable is a smaller symptom of the bigger problem.

Reminds me of the Black Mirror episode #1 this season.


Maybe you mistyped, or maybe it's just too late and I'm not parsing things right, but I'm having a hard time distinguishing between the two options here:

"It's one thing to use downvotes as a moderation tool, submerging comments from others with whom you don't agree. It's another thing to "penalize" (FWIW) a person because you disagree with him/her."

Regarding how down votes are used on HN, there are those who use them to express disagreement (PG weighed in a while ago https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=117171), though there are others who think this isn't the best use of down votes.

Maybe we need "non-substantive", "don't agree", and "flag/uncivil". I can see how that could overcomplicate things, though.

Yeah, it was too late...for me. Sorry, I wasn't very clear.

By "punishing people", I meant the whole "karma" thing. So, using downvotes to score comments is considered a form of thread moderation. Ok, that's one thing. However, also assigning a score to people based, in part, on whether others frequently agree with them really encourages group-think. There is at least some perceivable utility in downvoting comments, but what's the value of scoring whether people frequently agree with someone?

BTW, I'm not going meta here, as I think it's very relevant to this thread.

>there are others who think this isn't the best use of down votes.

Yeah, I am also one who believes that, even with comments, downvotes for disagreement have a similar--though perhaps lesser--effect of discouraging diversity of ideas. I guess the heart of it is that disagreement is considered a legitimate reason for downvoting, whether it's comments or karma that is impacted.

Upvotes plus the current flags for incivility/inappropriateness should be enough for moderation, and would remove the disincentive for the expression of diverse ideas.

There's not really any point in having rules you can't enforce. So unless you're going (and able) to penalize someone for down-voting inappropriately, just leave it to "democracy" and let each person cast their down-votes for whatever reason pleases them personally.

At least HN and twitter let me post under ever-changing pseudonyms.

For all the vitriolic atmosphere that might create it also enables me to present deviant opinions without fear of that vitriol.

Friction arises where real-name and pseudonymous posting collides without sufficient self-moderation tools available to the users.

If you can't take the heat, etc. It's silly to say "think about whether you would say this to someone in person or not" -- that's the whole point, you're NOT saying it to someone in person, you can say what you want without the usual repercussions. It's ultimately a good thing, even if some people get hurt. And since when do you have a right not to be upset? But you do have a right to keep off the internet if you can't handle it, not to post pictures of yourself and your real name, not to base your life completely around the internet and social media. I keep it anonymous, like the old days of the internet. I have pretty bare social media profiles, mostly as a big rolodex. If I post something else, opinions, what have you, I do it anonymously. Why does everyone need everybody else to know exactly who and where they are and everything about themselves? Because they think they're special and that others care. And then they get trolled. And so it goes.

This is about as sociopathic a view as one would expect from SV-oriented people. The impact of what you do, as a person, on other people is of paramount importance. Abstract statements like the above do not acknowledge, much less value, the actual impact of online behavior.

I hope you grow out of these views. You may find life to be more rewarding.

Sorry, SV-oriented?

Silicon Valley, as a generalized concept.

I think you've really misjudged me and what I'm saying. I think freedom on the web is more important than hurt feelings and that people ought to have a bit thicker skin in general or else stop making themselves so available to others. If a site wants to ban people or purge messages, that's their prerogative and they're welcome to do so. I don't need any cliche life lessons and sentiments from someone calling me a sociopath for it, lol.

But the people who use social media for self-promotion are not like you. They literally feed off it, i guess psychologists can explain that better. Think of politicians who use facebook/twitter for personal gain. They develop an emotional attachment to the medium i guess.

Yep, you're right. But to me it's like someone who loves owning 6 dogs but complains about picking up shit.

It's OK to complain; the problem is when the platform caves to these users.

> that's the whole point, you're NOT saying it to someone in person

Perhaps we should call it "anti-social media" then.

This is nothing that has not been said before, and does not illuminate anything about "the damage of social media." Yes, lack of real-world speech consequences allows people who lack empathy to amplify their voice. Yes, kids spend a lot of time on the Internet.

But this article lacks anything for us to do about it. The subset of "travelfordifference.com" readers probably has little overlap with the people who post in /b/.

This article lacks focus, lacks a clear audience, and lacks a clear path to action.

As well, there are some misconceptions in this article.

>You do have the right to say what you please and your opinion certainly is valid.

You don't always have the right to say what you please and just because you do say it doesn't make your opinion 'valid'. There are plenty of invalid "opinions."

>But there is a time and place for everything, and upsetting someone through your words is not achieving a thing.

There is not a time and place for everything. For example, there is no time and no place for slander. And upsetting someone validates the speaker's ability to affect another person -- thus, the 'upsetter' is accomplishing their goal.

>If someone is demonizing you, attacking you or upsetting you.. they are not worth your time, your emotions or your words. Your life is better than theirs. Be the bigger person and show social media how it should be done.

Just because someone is attacking you verbally does not mean your life is better than theirs. In fact, if you are severely, adversely affected by online hate-speech, your life is not better than theirs, and you need to change that. "Being the bigger person" does nothing. Social media very, very rarely rewards calm discourse on its own.

> You don't always have the right to say what you please and just because you do say it doesn't make your opinion 'valid'. There are plenty of invalid "opinions."

The First Amendment, at least in the US, protects the right of the people to say what they please. It is a very important right, because it prevents that form of power from being concentrated in a small group, and certain topics never being brought up.

You may perceive many opinions as invalid, but you don't know how people arrived at them - from their perspective, they're perfectly valid. This is true for all humans, as we do not possess perfect information. Effectively all of our opinions are invalid. This is not useful, and we're saying other peoples' opinions are valid not because they're 100% factually correct, but as a sign of respect and understanding that information processing is difficult and that we acknowledge that the opinion is reasonable from their end.

>You may perceive many opinions as invalid, but you don't know how people arrived at them - from their perspective, they're perfectly valid.

Of course. But this has no relationship at all with their actual validity.

>a sign of respect and understanding that information processing is difficult and that we acknowledge that the opinion is reasonable from their end.

But it's not about opinion, it's about the effect of those opinions on other people.

I don't really care if some people think the EU is an organisation of Satanic Communists who plan to take over the world, and that Britain has been cheated out of its empire and self-respect by EU membership.

They're perfectly entitled to their opinion, even if I think it's nuts.

I most certainly do care if those people have the political effect of depriving me of my right to travel and work in neighbouring countries. Then it's no longer just about opinions, but about someone imposing a crazy world view on other people and having a real effect on their lives.

The opinions can be dismissed. The political effects can't.

And that's the real problem. Free speech doesn't just mean the freedom to criticise the government - it also means the freedom to try to persuade others of the validity of a point of view, and to convert that persuasion into political power.

Which is a problem, because it allows bad faith actors. Currently as a voter I have more legal redress if I buy a toaster and it stops working than if a politician wilfully and knowingly lies to me during a campaign of persuasion. Similarly, there is very little redress against media outlets that lie or make up content to further a political agenda.

I'd suggest both of those need to change. The action of deliberately and knowingly misleading the public should be not be protected by free speech laws. Politicians and media companies that do it should be held accountable.

The rationale is simple - professional liars benefit no one except themselves. There is no case to be made for allowing wilful, deliberate dishonesty in public discourse.

The assumptions behind "unlimited full free speech" is that 1) speech is just speech and has no consequences, and 2) it is all or nothing, either anyone can say anything they want, anywhere, or there's no free speech.

Another point is that both politics and consumerism is about swaying people to make them do what is profitable for the candidate or the seller, so all in all it's better to have a very malleable population. Strong individualism, a mark of many Western societies, significantly contributes to the general lack of empathy and solidarity; as a consequence, the "losers" of the individualistic competition are just ignored ("they must be stupid, or lazy"), and this makes them all the more prone to being manipulated.

When you are in the business of selling little stories to people, you don't want to face a well-educated community with strong ties.

That something appears "true" to the person speaking it has no bearing on the validity of the it.

And no, not every person's opinion about everything deserves respect, and not every person deserves respect. Respect is earned, not given. We respect the opinions of doctors (about medicine) because they have dedicated a significant portion if their waking lives to the pursuit of medicine. We do not respect the opinions of people (about women's rights) who believe the rape of women is justified by the clothes they wear. This is not a matter of a missed memo, not a matter misprocessed information.

We respect people who share our values.

Let's not mistake understanding someone for respect. There is some information that is not difficult to process.

I already addressed that point. It being absolutely true is not the point. Most of your opinions are also not absolutely true. If we could just figure out how to only have true opinions, we could solve a lot of problems. We do not yet have that luxury, most of our opinions are, in one way or another, wrong, and some more than others.

We have a long history of people not treating women well. It is not limited to any particular tribe or group of people. If that's not a matter of missed memo, I don't know what is. It clearly seems that a given tribe needs to be taught this, and even then, something pulls them back. Long have people believed that they simply were born extra ethical and extra moral, and it wasn't their culture and civilization that made them so, do you still believe this?

So much bad history, why do you think these things are obvious?

And how is our track record for caring about women's rights when it's too troublesome? Wars, for instance? What's going on? What are these values that you think we share?

Unless you really think you were born extra ethical or moral, I would recommend to think about how people turn badly, because it is not something you're protected from. If anything, mistreatment of women seems to be a universal human trait, and treating them well is the exception.

> We respect people who share our values.

That would create a very limited set of exposure. I don't know how you can consider your values valid with that view. It's highly unlikely that all your opinions are absolutely true, so why would you base respect on someone else having exactly the same opinions as you? A person should not blindly copy the opinions of another, but develop their own from information available to them. That would be highly unlikely to lead to the same opinions as yours, which is a good thing. If everyone always has the same opinions as everyone else, there's no exploration. This also means sometimes the resulting opinions are bad. But the correct solution to that is criticizing the opinion itself, not the person developing their own opinion, or the right to have opinions in the first place. That leads to people copying opinions, and they're not at all guaranteed to be the ones you like.

>If we could just figure out how to only have true opinions, we could solve a lot of problems.

This is the foundation of law, ethics, and science. The constant pursuit and revision of what is the true opinion. Do they fail? Often. But the framework they provide is vital to a functionimg society.

>I don't know how you can consider your values valid with that view

Not sure what you mean here. My values and "valid" inherently, or they wouldn't be my values.

>But the correct solution to that is criticizing the opinion itself, not the person developing their own opinion.

This is true in many case, but also patently not true in many others. Some opinions -- those derived from a clear lack of empathy or from the holder's refusl to acknowledge facts -- do not deserve criticism. Some matters require no more debate, and engaging in that debate only reduces the opinion-holder's heinous ethical shortcoming to a simple disagreement.

In this case, the person deserves criticism for their actions, and not respect.

>The First Amendment, at least in the US, protects the right of the people to say what they please.

Unless it's under copyright.

> The First Amendment, at least in the US, protects the right of the people to say what they please.

Rather, it prevents the government from suppressing speech. Jack Dorsey can suppress your speech all he likes.

Which makes it a right. The Bill of Rights is a document describing the rights of the people as well as protecting the people from the government. In the context of the parent's comment, it confirms that people, at least in the US, have the right of free speech.

Neither the parent nor Jack Dorsey can override that right beyond their own back yard, which does not at all equate to suppressing speech. Getting moderated on a forum isn't speech suppression and doesn't in any way violate the First Amendment.

What determines the validity of an opinion?

Sometimes the validity of an opinion can be refuted by logic (e.g. if it is internally inconsistent), science (e.g. if it can be experimentally refuted) or morality (e.g. if it violates basic human rights).

The OP mentions that the spark that caused the outrage they faced was an incident involving their pets. I'm not surprised at all.

It's a very incendiary topic because people have very strong opinions about animal wellbeing and animal rights. Discussion forums (and Facebook groups, etc) that concentrate on pets and animals also tends to draw in a crowd of crazy cat ladies and other individuals with very polarized opinions.

I never discuss my pets, especially issues related to their health and wellbeing (or other "incidents") on the internet. You will get mean responses from people and you may get straight up harrassment from SJWs and other "activists". If you are a public figure (even slightly), this may ruin your life or your career.

This gets much worse on international forums, because different cultures have different ideals of animal wellbeing. E.g. some americans consider declawing cats to be alright, a lot of british people think that cats shouldn't be kept indoors at all, some americans breed white tigers because they're "rare" (and even run a "charity" to support them) and the british don't eat horse meat at all. And then there's a bunch of people who think that animals should not be "owned" at all. Mention any of these three things on a public, internationally attended forum on animals and you are going to get a flame war.

Just don't mention your pets (or other activities related to animals) on public internet forums. Nothing good can come out of it.

Given they are sharing this vile post


of total incendiary bullshit, they really are calling the kettle black.

This is a prime example of fake stories that serve no purpose other than to make people feel bad, make minorities feel worse and create divides.

Reminds me of those late 90s rumours and email threads. Remember the gangs that would drive around with their headlights off or brights on? If you flashed yours to let them know, they follow you and remove a finger as gang initiation...or kill you..or something..I don't know it changed every time. :-P

Ah everything old is new again!

We're meant to accept those fake viral stories on social media because they fit the narrative. For example, take this tweet from a senior reporter at CNN attacking famed right-wing news cesspit Breitbart for covering the fakery: https://twitter.com/DylanByers/status/798263162508177410 The FBI actually said there was a surge in hate crimes in 2015. This in no way confirms the post-election surge of social media stories as he pretends it does. (Which makes his tweet a fake viral claim that a story about fake viral hate crime claims is fake. Confusing, I know.)

Not to mention if you actually look at the number of hate crimes per year they are almost incredibly low. Something like (you can google yourself for exact numbers) 500 hate crimes against Muslims in 2015 (400 in 2002, I think). Considering how many people live in the United States, it's kind of amazing. And hate crimes against Jews are always the highest. But now, just days after the election, we're supposed to believe that the number has tripled, quadrupled, whatever, in just a matter of days. It begs one to really think about the veracity of some of the claims. As if people only suddenly became openly racist. I think the type of person who would call someone a nigger is gonna do it no matter who runs for president or who wins. And I wager a large percentage of the reports are well-meaning (from an SJW perspective) BS.

There's no reason to think that the number of reports about low-threshold hate speech and similar incidents on social media and the number of incidents on FBI record should be the same. They can be vastly different and still true for what they count, because they count different things. They are related, though, and if one number goes up I'd expect the other number to go up as well.

No, you're right. I just wanted to point out how low the numbers are according to the FBI. It's actually surprising to me, I would expect more. I didn't mean to say that because the number of recent reports on social media seemingly quadruples those numbers that they're not true -- I didn't word my comment properly. I'm not making any truth claims, just that the amount of reports and the content of the claims feel suspicious to me.

> We're meant to accept those fake viral stories [snip]

And now /you/ are calling those reports fake without presenting credible evidence. How does a misguided tweet about the Breitbart cesspit suddenly make Breitbart's claim right?

So much confusion, I know.

It doesn't, the fact that more reputable news organisations have contacted the local police and they've confirmed that several of the most prominent reports are fake does.[1] Ultimately the problem isn't that any one particular story turned out to be false, it's that social media spreads the most incendiary, terrifying stories regardless of truth and there's an atmosphere of hostility towards anyone questioning them. (Though this did lead to the confirmed fakes being the most successful, viral hate crime claims I saw post-election.)

[1] http://reason.com/blog/2016/11/11/election-night-hijab-attac... is a reasonable summary.

Thanks for the link. This seems to be a mix of straight-out fakes, misunderstandings, inaccuracies, missing police reports (not necessarily a proof for anything) etc.

Is there an analyses that goes a bit further, maybe looking at the top X shared stories and counting how many of them turned out to be false vs. how many could be confirmed vs. how many we just can't proof or disproof? I think something like that would be needed to make a blanket statement like "those fake viral stories."

T h a n k you.

It's been shown almost all of these stories are fake. Remember the gas station one? Several people, and even major news orgs, rang up the local police department, and they said they never received any call from the victim or from anybody in a gas station.

Classic :P

Where has it been shown that "almost all of these stories are fake"? Do you have a source? Please share. FWIW, making such an accusation without credible background info makes you sound like a crazy conspiracy theorist.

(I'm not sure what the gas station story was. Was it severe enough that it would have been imperative for any victim or witness to call the police? Were there enough witnesses? If not, the police not having received a call doesn't show anything.)

The gas station story is this one, I think. The victim claimed that charges had been filed, the police claimed not to even have received any report of such a crime: http://www.phillyvoice.com/police-no-official-report-ugly-ra... Also, it's impossible to tell exactly what proportion of stories are fake because as you say not all of them have witnesses or are reported to the police, or even have enough details that they could ever be disproved, but the fakes seem to rather outnumber the confirmed incidents right now.


> A simple google search will show you how often SJWs lie about harassment to get attention and further their cause.

This is ridicules. For every esoteric claim you'll find a "source" on the Internet. That doesn't make them true. I want a credible source and accountable evidence, not some ideological alt-right infowar bullshit that I'm sure I can find easily via Google.

That's why I recommended you google it yourself. I mean, just find the video of the black woman in a wheelchair burning a cross on her own lawn before calling the police. There's a video. That's just one example. Research yourself on sites you trust. To just dismiss what I'm saying this way, claim I'm looking at alt-right infowar pages when I didn't direct you anywhere specific... meh.

I'm not even sure what you're asking me to google. "The big SJW conspiracy"?

So there was a black women falsely reporting a crime, cool. How does that show that "almost all of these stories are fake"?

I never defended the claim that almost all are fake (in fact, I said I'm sure many are true), I'm simply saying there are many times these people have been caught lying about harassment -- and yes, they are SJWs. Like many of the people most upset about Trump's victory. You don't know what to google except "big SJW conspiracy". I can see I'll get nowhere with you. Just forget about it, you've made up your mind.

The question I asked was:

"Where has it been shown that 'almost all of these stories are fake'?"

You responded to that with:

"A simple google search will show you how often SJWs lie about harassment to get attention and further their cause"

Still sounds to me like you were defending the claim, but I'll take your word that you didn't mean to and I agree we can end this weird conversation.

Purpose is to get likes, attention and at some point ad revenue.

So raising awareness for racism is the problem, not racism itself? Or are you saying that racism isn't real? That all those reports are fake? Something else? I can't really tell from your comment.

Btw I'm part of a minority and these kind of posts don't make me "feel worse." Please don't speak for me, thank you very much.

So what is the complaint against "post-truth" again? (context: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12972415)

Is spreading a hoax to make a point ("raise awareness") not post-truth too?

> Is spreading a hoax to make a point ("raise awareness") not post-truth too?

It would be if there was a hoax, hence my questions about what the OP actually tried to say. If it meant to say that reports about everyday racism are one huge hoax, I'd like to see some evidence to back that claim.

I rather think the burden of proof is on those making the claims. Why should we accept any of the reports as true without evidence? Since I can't think of any way to prove that some random person on the internet relating an anecdote is lying.

I think it's more nuanced than that. Lack of proof doesn't necessarily make reports false. I wouldn't report every low-threshold hate speech incident to the police, nor do I think it's reasonable to expect every personal report to come with video evidence or a list of named witnesses. If you became a victim, would you refrain from posting it on social media just because you don't have evidence that would hold up in court?

There's a difference between being skeptical and making a blanket statement that most/all of the reports are fake. The latter itself is a claim that puts the burden of proof on you.

I never said a lack of proof necessitated falsity. It simply seems to me that when it's nearly impossible to disprove such claims (it's just someone saying something on the internet), we shouldn't lend them too much credence unless we actually know the person or have a good reason. So, whereas you think we shouldn't doubt them without good reason, I think the opposite. It's like religious people saying, prove that God doesn't exist -- well, I can't do that, but it shouldn't be my burden, it's the believer who should present evidence for belief. We believe people are innocent until proven guilty, these people are making claims against others and it's simply their word against, well, nothing. Also, I never said most or all are fake. But there definitely are claims which proved false.

> I never said a lack of proof necessitated falsity.

You did call them hoaxes, which is pretty much the same thing.

Maybe the problem is that you think everyday racism is as unlikely as the existence of God?

Also, I would add, these are not claims about "everyday racism" -- these are extraordinary claims about Trump supporters suddenly feeling emboldened and harassing people in all manner of public places in terrible ways.

It wasn't me who said hoax.

No matter how likely I believe everyday racism to be doesn't change who should carry the burden of proof for claims about it.

> It wasn't me who said hoax.

My mistake. You defended that claim by saying it doesn't carry its own burden of proof.

There can be different claims carrying their own burden of proof without taking away the other side's burden. I think it's reasonable to ask for evidence for incidences, while acknowledging that presenting evidence may often not be viable. At the same time I think it's reasonable to ask for evidence for the claim the reports are "a hoax." This is not the same as disproving God. You can actually go through the list of incidences and try to do research about every single one of them, although you won't necessarily come to a conclusive answer. (FWIW, you'd likely see that some of the reports actually come with credible evidence, pretty much already falsifying the blanket claim that they're a hoax.)

If you assert that something is a hoax, not merely that you think it's a hoax, you should absolutely be able to prove it.

I wasn't ever trying to defend his claim that it's all a giant hoax, I was just jumping into the conversation and asking why do we even believe these claims in the first place without a good reason to do so.

And to further answer your question, no, I personally wouldn't post it to social media, with evidence or without. I have accounts on all the major sites, but I rarely post anything, I'm much more of a lurker. I don't need validation on my choice to eat pizza for lunch or a hug machine of people I really don't know all that well to tell me how horrible some event in my life was that I already understand was horrible. I don't like to put my life on display in that way. I realize I'm in the minority.

That wasn't really my question. Of course if you never post on social media, the answer is easy, so let me rephrase: If you were an active social media user and became a victim, would you refrain from posting about it just because you don't have evidence that would hold up in court?

Honestly, I have a hard time putting myself in that mindset, but if I did post it, I certainly wouldn't expect everyone in the world to just believe me.

The issue is that those stories might be just as fabricated as those macedonian fake news sites. Maybe they're created for different reasons, but how are you supposed to trust a collection of unsourced text snippets?

And even if we are charitable and assume that they are grounded in facts they might still be exaggerated because they are more vivid in the memory of the one reporting them than what actually happened.

I would argue that they are unlikely to be "just as fabricated as those macedonian fake news sites", because the come from random individuals rather than weird "news outlets" with a business model.

Granted, the identities of those random individuals could be fake, the reports could theoretically be orchestrated etc., but unless you have proof for this, that's just a conspiracy theory.

It's not just professional outlets that create fake news. 4chan regularly does false-flagging to create a more heated discussion. And so does the other side, see mattress girl for example or the gas station thing mentioned elsewhere in the thread.

Lies are cheap on the internet.

And since those stories are a claim that something happened and there is noone to argue the other side my position is that the burden of proof that anything happened at all is on the poster. Otherwise they might be crying wolf.

Sure, 4chan does that. I find it hard to believe that all those reports come from 4chan.

Look, saying some reports may be fake, some may be exaggerated, some may be inaccurate is something entirely different than saying they're all bullshit.

But now you have several problems:

we don't know:

* which reports are fake

* which percentage of reports are fake

* which side of the argument creates more fakes than other

Maybe it's almost entirely a propaganda war with a few traces of facts. Maybe it's mostly real, who knows. This is far away for many of us. So without some hard evidence we don't have much reason to believe any of it.

"Someone said something" is not good enough. Even pictures can be easily taken out of context. Hell, some fake stories even use photos from unrelated news, so even photographic evidence needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

So really, why should I believe anything that gets reposted over 3 corners in the form of unattributed, cropped screenshots?

I'm not saying you should believe them all. Reasonable skepticism is healthy, unfounded conspiracy theories are not. What I'm saying is that one shouldn't make unfounded assertions that all reports about everyday racism are fake.

Nobody said that all stories are fake.

But if reasonable skepticism tells us that an unknown percentage might be then then they do not "raise awareness".

It just tells us something between "one side is just virtue-signalling, things are mostly peachy" and "things are actually getting worse".

In other words, I'm not getting much useful information out of random clipped images on facebook. The error bars are way too large.

> Nobody said that all stories are fake.

You're sure about that? The OP was referring to a "vile post of total incendiary bullshit." I don't know what led to this rather vague statement, but to me one possible reading seems to be that all or at least the vast majority of the reports are false (and are spread knowing that they're false.)

Your opinion does not need to be a personal attack and it certainly does not need to upset anyone in any way. If it does, you and I are clearly doing something wrong.

I agree with this article in general but this particular statement stands out for me because I can't imagine a world where everything we say has to be carefully worded as not to upset anyone. Maybe I'm missing something here.

But SJWs can imagine it perfectly. And that's the future they want for us.

As the cost of publishing goes down, barrier of entry goes down, and you have a flood of unverified content.

Where I come from, people started pranking on Twitter about incoming tsunamis and all sort of mischief.

Unlike traditional media, social media spreads free opinion https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decline_of_the_West

Speaking for what someone thinks or feels is NOT an opinion. It's untrustworthiness!

The real damage occur last week on the presidential election if you can say so.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact