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Living in a sea of false signals: Are we being pushed from “trust, but verify” to “verify, then trust”?

Posted on March 11th, 2018 at 18:31 by John Sinteur in category: News -- Write a comment


I’m here to talk about Native American content on Facebook.

Yes, really.

I believe this case study encompasses many of the challenging and urgent issues related to trust, misinformation, and digital communities that this commission is grappling with.

There is a massive network of Native American pages, groups, and user accounts on Facebook that collectively have millions of fans, members, and friends. They publish articles about Native issues and share photos and videos of events such as the protests at Standing Rock. There are also pages that exclusively publish photos of attractive Native American women and beg fans to comment on their beauty. Some of the pages and related websites publish articles about unrelated health topics such a fibromyalgia. Their articles about actual Native American issues are often plagiarized from genuine Native publishers based in the United States.

Some theses sites and pages — which by the way are some of the biggest and most active Native American pages on all of Facebook — also publish completely false stories or trade in classic clickbait articles. One group of pages recently shared a fabricated story about a police officer arresting Malia Obama and later being found dead. It was plagiarized from a fake news site.

If you’re a person with an interest in Native American topics and issues, these pages and groups will present as some of the best places to get that content on Facebook. They have signals of authority such as a high number of fans, and a name that seems legitimate. Often the groups or pages are administered by profiles that profess to be Native American. The pages often falsely list an address or organization in US that they are affiliated with. In some cases, the people who run these groups use a checkmark emoji in the group name to make it seem as if the group has been verified by Facebook.

So, who is running these groups and pages?

Young men in places such as Kosovo and Vietnam.

  1. Certainly verify then trust. Always cautious, more so in this age of trump.

  2. Ps: thanks for the heads up

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