The Night Mike Pence Twerked: Drunken Gay Bar Fiasco Caught On Video!

While campaigning for the Indiana governorship in 2012, then U.S. Rep. Mike Pence decided to broaden his constituency at a popular Terre Haute LGBT club called the White Swallow. By night’s end, as documented in a smart phone video that has recently emerged, the evangelical “family values” candidate had apparently, er, changed his position.  --  The Washington Press-Tribune11-20-16

OK, that’s made up. Out of whole cloth. Not one single thing about it is true. Nothing, that is, except the “family values“ stuff -- which is why if this popped up on your Facebook newsfeed, and you were of a certain political persuasion and therefore savored a delicious hypocrisy gotcha, you might not notice that there is no such paper as the Washington Press-Tribune, much less bothering to Google “Terre Haute White Swallow” by way of due diligence.



No, more likely you might instead hit the share button so fast you forget to add the laughter emoji.

Welcome to the world of fake news. But more to the point, welcome to the world of 1.7 billion echo chambers.

Fake news has been all the (out)rage in the past few days, as it emerged that incendiary phony stories -- almost all of them benefitting Donald Trump -- actually outperformed major news outlets on Facebook over the last three months of the presidential campaign.

20 top-performing false election stories from hoax sites and hyperpartisan blogs generated 8,711,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook, according to research done by Craig Silverman from BuzzFeed. Within the same time period, the 20 best-performing election stories from 19 major news Web sites generated a total of 7,367,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook. 

Unsurprisingly, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg found himself besieged by demands to intervene with technology or human labor to keep fraudulent “news” out of the newsfeed. Imposing curation or editorial judgment, of course, is the last thing Zuckerberg wants to do, because that would force him to at least tacitly acknowledge that Facebook is a publisher.  

Now, you may think, “Wait. It is the world's biggest distributer of content, against which it sells advertising… of course it's a publisher.” But Zuckerberg, for fear of losing the safe harbor afforded by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, clings to the fiction that Facebook is merely an agnostic platform. It's a thin reed, and suppressing certain content would shear the reed in two.

Yet, after dismissing as “crazy” the notion that Facebook's permissiveness helped swing the election, Zuckerberg abruptly changed course on Sunday and promised he's on the case. We'll see. Don't run any victory laps just yet. Because, as Walt Kelly put it, “we have met the enemy and it is us.”

While the EdgeRank algorithm is certainly pernicious, it is not evil. Mark Zuckerberg doesn't want to elect presidents. He wants to keep people on Facebook as long as he can. As such, the algorithm feeds us content similar that that which we've previously clicked on, commented on, liked, smiley-faced and/or shared. If users weren't choosing fake news, they'd soon stop receiving fake news and sharing it with others and so on into election-skewing virality.

Luckily for Trump, those on the political right proved to be far more susceptible -- or at least far more eager customers -- than those on the left. But just for one moment try to put the election aside, because the implications are more horrifying than even our current political predicament.

In this space I've already detailed how social-media distribution is potentially -- I'd say probably -- ruinous for publishers of serious, rigorous news. This springs from the above-mentioned pernicious convergence of user-engagement algorithms and complacent human nature. But as I've also bleated about incessantly, our polarized politics have literally reduced the demand for seriousness and rigor. Facts, information, data, science, authority are not only devalued, but regarded with suspicion.

Here is my guarantee: if Facebook follows through on Zuckerberg’s promise, the new Republican House of Representatives will hold a hearing demanding to know why it hasn't also suppressed NPR, NBC News and The New York Times.  

Take that one to the bank. Meantime, if you have any reserves of dread left, contemplate the idea that Trump presidency is commencing in a socially mediated world that values bombastic lies more than it values the great gray truth.

7 comments about "The Night Mike Pence Twerked: Drunken Gay Bar Fiasco Caught On Video!".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, November 21, 2016 at 11:05 a.m.

    Ron Paul already penned a good rejoinder to the blizzard of same-tar-brush stories going around, so I don't need to bother. Google these words: fake news Ron paul

  2. Steven Rosenbaum from, November 21, 2016 at 11:36 a.m.

    Great job - love your work. There's a link missing however.  Please post link to the Terre Haute smart phone video. Thks! I'll share this for sure. 

  3. x xxxxxxxxxx from out, November 21, 2016 at 12:05 p.m.

    It's a sad state of affairs that our social platforms are the main news source for millions of people, but lack integrity, and they don't know it.  Real journalism is just about dead, and we can thank algorithmic content feeds for click-baiting us into submission.  Few companies want to take on the responsibility of real news because it's just easier to make $$$ by posting whatever feeds the algorithm.  This isn't a politics issue, it's a money issue.

  4. Klaus Schneegans from Buzz360, LLC, November 21, 2016 at 12:44 p.m.

    Sorry, but the establsied publications have brought this upon themselves.  1. They have been using obnoxious clickbate and they are pushing this as the way to get readers.  2. If the reporting was a little less bias, poeple woudl actually believe what they say and thre woudl be no need for the outragous fake news.  It's because the "real" news has turned "fake" fake news is successful.    

  5. Dean Fox from ScreenTwo LLC, November 21, 2016 at 1:57 p.m.

    This is almost certainly wishful thinking, but maybe, just maybe, some of us will realize that citizenship in a democracy requires that we make the effort to study the facts and turn out to vote. A lazy electorate, where only half show up to vote and those who do, don't demonstrate even a minimum of reasonable skepticism, deserves what they get: a media-savvy president who is convinced he is above the truth and the law.

  6. Ford Kanzler from Marketing/PR Savvy, November 21, 2016 at 2:57 p.m.

    @ Dean above - Your quote: "A lazy electorate, where only half show up to vote and those who do, don't demonstrate even a minimum of reasonable skepticism..."
    So the half who voted (either way) demonstrated no skepticism? Are you kidding or what? Suggest that's more than a bit of an overstatement.
    Certainly agree that more people need to be actively involved in understanding and acting on political issues as voters. Perhaps we now have a large, unrully, often self-absorbed, lazy as well as poorly/mis-informed and seemingly ever-less-educated electorate. But there are certainly many who are paying close attention, becoming informed, using their heads and hearts and casting votes.

  7. Patrick Scullin from Ames Scullin O'Haire, inc., November 21, 2016 at 5:09 p.m.

    Terrific column, Bob, spot on as usual. Fortunately, MZ has announced FB will shut down fake news (as reported in The Lint Screen, "America's First Choice For Newsy News That's Truesy Trues"

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