While Social Media Was Quick To Highlight And Limit The Spread Of False Claims Of Election Victory, Traditional Media Just Let It Flow

from the guys,-seriously? dept

For four years, all we've been hearing about is how social media was this terrible source of disinformation that had to be regulated because they were destroying democracy and all that. And so what happened last night/early this morning when Donald Trump falsely tried to claim he had won prior to all the votes being counted? Twitter and Facebook both reacted pretty quickly to flag the information, and highlight that it was misleading or false (and Twitter limited the ability to share it).


Meanwhile, nearly every major TV station allowed Trump to give his speech directly, in which he falsely claimed that he had already won states where there were still many votes to be counted, insisted that the counting of votes must be stopped (and claiming he was going to ask the Supreme Court to stop the count), and suggesting that there was fraud going on in a few states that still had significant mail-in ballots to count (most of which they hadn't been able to count prior to yesterday because of Republican legislatures blocking that ability). There was no attempt to delay what he was saying, to contextualize it or to point out it was wrong until well after it had broadcast.

And then you had journalistic malpractice via the Associated Press. Two of its White House reporters, Zeke Miller and Jonathan Lemire, decided to do a "straight" tweet repeating what Trump had said, without any context, without any caveats or context, as if it were factual reporting.


It's flabbergasting that the AP would take this view from nowhere approach to reporting on something so critical. And, even worse, since so many local newspapers just rerun AP newswire, that's the take that many people are going to see.

Other sources got it correct. Buzzfeed -- a site that old school journalists used to love to mock -- did a hell of a lot more journalism than the AP:

The Guardian, a UK paper, got the story correct as well:

We've been noting in the past year how studies have shown that TV news is the key source for disinformation and how it doesn't tend to go viral on social media until after it appears on TV.

So can someone explain to me why it is everyone wants to rush out and blame social media for disinformation?

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Filed Under: content moderation, disinformation, donald trump, elections, fact checking, jonathan lemire, media, social media, zeke miller
Companies: ap, associated press, buzzfeed, facebook, guardian, twitter


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  1. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 4 Nov 2020 @ 9:00am

    Tell me Koby, should a "christian" baker be forced to bake a cake for an LGBTQ wedding?

    Not Koby (obviously), but this question has a nuanced answer that I’m not sure he can provide.

    If the baker offers wedding cakes to the general public, they don’t get to decide who makes up “the general public” — they must offer those cakes to gay customers as well. Everyone has to follow the laws for public accomodation businesses, and those laws don’t have religious exemptions for discrimination.

    The decorating of the cake, on the other hand, brings the First Amendment into play. The government saying “if you have cakes on your menu, you must offer them to everyone” is one thing. The government saying “you must decorate those cakes with whatever the customer wants, no matter what” would compel speech from the baker. Last I checked, the government can’t do that.

    And I’ll remind you that in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, the owner of that bakery no longer offers wedding cakes as a result of the initial ruling that said “yeah, you gotta treat gay people equally here, the law says so”. The bakery owner made that choice of their own free will so they wouldn’t have to sell wedding cakes to gay people.

    So yes, the law should make a baker to bake a wedding cake for gay customers if the baker plans to offer wedding cakes to all customers — but decorating that cake should be left to the customer if the baker says “I can’t put that on your cake”. Azucar Bakery won their case because they had a policy against hateful messaging that didn’t single out religion in general (or any specific religion). They also won because they offered to accomodate the customer by selling him what he needed to put anti-gay messaging on those cakes. The courts shouldn’t compel speech — but I see no issue with the law compelling equal service for gay customers in public-facing businesses. Separate but equal was bullshit when it was about Black people; it’s still bullshit when it’s about queer people.


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