Repeating Debunked News Stories On TV Is Dangerous

There is social-media sharing of news from TV, as well as other sources. What does your TV viewer gut tell you about the news you hear?

One news story may report that another news story is false. And if you repeat that lie, it would cause genuine confusion.

Let’s say the Faux News Network aired a story that President Trump now wants to investigate all corruption in Russia -- not the Ukraine -- and that Vladmir Putin is behind it all.  Sounds like groundbreaking news. You might think: “Perhaps, I should share that on my social-media accounts.”

The trouble is, the report isn't true. But active social-media consumers might want it to be.

One expert on MSNBC says it's not the false TV news information that's the problem -- it’s the endless repetition of false news that's dangerous.

The temptation in sharing is obvious. Some people believe there have been many lies, misinformation or omissions around what President Trump says or tweets. 4,000? 5,000? Much more.



In October of this year, The Washington Post says Trump has made 13,435 false or misleading claims.

Yet who can’t resist repeating some of them -- dubious information that creates interest on social media and TV in terms of viewership. And there you go.

Chuck Todd, host of MSNBC’s "MTP Daily," recently asked: “Should TV networks report false information -- even to debunk it?” Daniel Effron, associate professor at London Business School, part of the University of London, said it should be reported very carefully: “The truth should always drown out the lies.”

Yes, but when? Everyday social-media users can’t vet all news and information that comes their way. There’s lot of slippage.

In 2019, the top 100 fake news stories on Facebook were viewed over 150 million times -- "enough to reach every registered voter at least once,” according to a new study from Avaaz, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization launched in January 2007 that promotes global activism.

Here’s some of the big fake news stories. No. 8: "Tim Allen quote Trump’s wall costs less than the Obamacare website." No. 4: "Trump Is Now Trying To Get Mike Pence Impeached." No. 2: "Nancy Pelosi diverting Social Security money for the impeachment inquiry."  

The top one? "Trump’s grandfather was a pimp and tax evader; his father a member of the KKK."  All are false.

So there you go. I’m just like most of you. I just repeated some debunked news. Now, make your own sharing and editorial decisions.

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