Please do some basic research before sharing links on Facebook

Community group administrators have power in small towns. They need to vet what they share

I’m quite clicker-happy on Twitter. I “like” clever jokes, pictures, and interesting articles or research done by friends. On Facebook, I hold back.

Twitter, which I think we’ve come to understand as an often putrid ocean of garbage and bots, is easy to float through, undetected. Even for those I follow, there’s a slim chance that I’ll actually see what they post or share, just because of the sheer volume of content that cascades through my screen during my morning coffee scrolls. (It’s partially why I get excited when one of my tweets gets picked up by someone I admire, because I know that the chances of them seeing it and interacting with that post were slim).

Facebook’s a different beast, particularly small town Facebook. In our groups, it’s easy for one or two fish to boil the water (yes, the metaphors are really swirling now) and agitate the whole pond. That’s why I think it’s particularly important to know what we’re sharing, before we share it. Opinions, if the page or comment section permits – go for it, I say! Dialogue and the sharing of credited ideas are good. Sharing links, I think, requires some more personal rigour.

I write on this because last week an administrator for a popular community news and events group shared a link to that same group about an organization that was asking for a criminal investigation into the CBC for hate speech for a column published online called “Dear Qallunaat (white people).” On its surface, sure, let’s talk about the merits of the public broadcaster’s opinion section until the cows come home. Underneath, however, was something more rotten.

The accusation of hate speech was levelled at a column (an opinion piece, such as the one you are currently reading) that was written by Inuk lawyer Sandra Inutiq. Inutiq’s column contains some very important reminders for everyone who lives in Canada, on power systems, historical and systemic racism entrenched by colonial projects, and perhaps how that background – some of which still endures in systems and attitudes today – has created imbalances between opportunity and treatment for white people in Canada and those whose ancestors were here first.

But back to the issue – research what you share, before sharing.

Just like how we aim to credit stories to the appropriate writer or organization that produced them in the paper (“Jensen Edwards,” “Black Press Staff,” etc.), I think transparency in the origin of a shared link is key. If you’re so excited to share your newfound knowledge, maybe do some research into who it was that gave it to you in the first place.

In this case, the group levelling the accusation at the CBC was a student group based in Toronto that claims to espouse the ideals of “Western Civilization,” from a euro-centric point of view. The group, which calls itself “nationalist,” defines the term as “the policy or doctrine of asserting the interests of one’s own nation viewed as separate from the interests of other nations or the common interests of all nations.”

However, I have a hunch that they don’t quite feel the same way about First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples, but rather just with the interests of the racial (white) majority of a country.

Hilariously, tragically, nausea-inducingly, the group’s platform complains “that our immigration/economic systems are turning Europeans into minorities in the countries where we live around the world.”

Let’s dissect that for a second, because it really only does take a second. Government policies (of non-European countries such as Canada), the group says, are turning Europeans (read “white people”) into minorities in those same countries that aren’t in Europe (read “Canada and the United States”).

Forgive me for a second, but I really don’t think that they’ve got a logical leg to stand on with this one. They do, however, appear to have a very prejudiced mind to craft up their ideas.

All this to say, that person who has administrative power on a public Facebook group (which boasts an audience of around 1,500 people who get notifications when something is posted) pulled a racist and flawed argument from a fringe organization, gave it no context and left it to linger. If they didn’t know the background to what they posted, maybe next time they’ll check, because I know how easy it is to simply like, frown, love or post the angry face in reaction to a headline.

(I find it quite fun to see how quickly people react to a Gazette story posted to Facebook, mere seconds after it was published in the first place).

But if this group administrator did know the background to what they posted, I cringe with knowing that they have the authority over an influential Facebook group for more than 1,500 of my neighbours to vet and curate information.

If that’s the case, I know that it’s my time to leave, and I sincerely hope that others follow suit.

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