Being a website that deals with Internet nonsense, we’re always advising our readers to check the accuracy of the information they share online.
But it’s not just the accuracy of your posts that you should be concerned with. Sharing information on social media websites like Facebook exposes the source of that information – i.e. whoever uploaded the information in the first place – to a higher number of people. Thus, in many cases, checking the source of the information you share is often just as important.
Case in hand is the rising popularity of the Facebook page belonging to ‘Britain First’, which is an extremist right-wing UK political party, whose fundamental ideals are strewn with racism, fascism, homophobia, xenophobia and various other types of bigotry.
Not only does their Facebook page regularly reflect these ideals, but it also posts a consistent stream of hypocrisy, misinformation, urban legends (see here) and outright lies. So much so that it has even led to several pages being set-up dedicated to debunking just the information that they post.
Yet despite all of this, their social media Facebook page has still accumulated more followers than any of the other major parties in the UK.
The answer lies largely because they understand how to exploit social media, as well as its users who do not check the source of the information they post.
In the same way as Like-Farming pages exploit social media users to gain followers, Britain First continually post – amongst the hate-filled bigotry and misinformation – a series of wholly irrelevant information that is designed purely to accumulate Likes, Comments and Shares. Examples of these posts can be seen below, all captured from within a few days from the date of this post.
These sorts of posts exploit the emotions of the reader, luring them into interacting with the information in what social media sites like Facebook deem to be positive interaction. This interaction in turn leads to the information being given more circulation across the site, and this leads to the source, Britain First, getting more followers.
Whilst the posts above are not particularly relevant to the core beliefs of Britain First, which is essentially bigotry, social media users continue to share these sorts of “share-baity” posts, and thus expose the Britain First page to a larger number of people, allowing this hate-filled group to speak to a larger number of people than they normally would be able to.
Whilst users have the right to share what information they want (and if a user agrees with the beliefs of Britain First then they have the right to share their posts) this is a type of exploitation that is increasingly commonplace on sites like Facebook.
It is ultimately down to the user themselves to check the source of the information they share – and to not only check the accuracy of that information but to decide whether they want the source of that information to be given more exposure on the Internet.
The bottom line is that when sharing or liking posts online, the user has to decide not only whether they agree with post itself, but also with the core values of its source, as sharing the information will help both the post and the source reach more people. If you don’t agree with the values of the source of the information, then think twice before clicking the Share button.