Muftic: The danger of conspiracy theories
Conspiracy theory, per Merriam-Webster: A theory that explains an event or set of circumstances as the result of a secret plot by usually powerful conspirators.
Here is the danger. Those with political and personal agendas promoting conspiracy theories unleash the demons among and within us that harms public safety, exploits fears, supercharges paranoia, and leads to ineffective public policy initiatives and wild goose chases.
These theories are retweeted and shared to thousands and for some become gospel truth. Any facts to the contrary are ignored or called fake. The general public has only recently been exposed to the megaphone of social media and if the posting fortifies and intensifies an existing belief, they might share it, thumbs up it, and retweet without objectively evaluating proof of what connected the scary dots.
Do not wait for Facebook and Twitter to police themselves or for the government to do it for you. The best defense is the old Missouri state’s slogan “show me”. Independent fact checkers like factcheck.org and Snopes are worth a visit.
The latest high profile victim was 14 years old, Lauren Hogg, who was cyberbullied and her family received death threats. A conspiracy theory spread across social media claimed that her brother , a 17 year old survivor of the Parkland massacre, David Hogg, had been coached to speak out against guns by his former FBI agent father to “cover” for the agency’s failure to prevent the Parkland shooting. Father was part of the “deep state”. David Hogg was accused of being a “crisis actor’ because of his effective post shooting TV interviews, but as a Stoneman Douglas student he runs the high school TV station and is a member of the news staff. You Tube and Trending yanked the conspiracy postings and apologized. Fact checker Snopes debunked them as did factcheck.org — http://www.snopes.com/2018/02/20/right-wing-media-david-hogg/.
Remember the 2016 Pizzagate? A young man walked into a D.C. pizza parlor shortly before the 2016 election and shot up the place with an assault rifle. He had believed the conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton and John Podesta ran a child sex ring in the parlor’s basement. The pizza place did not even have a basement.
Those claiming the Special Counsel’s investigation into the Russian election meddling was a witch hunt, and it was also a conspiracy of “deep state” FBI agents out to “get Trump”, are speculating and theorizing. Mueller’s team is tight lipped, few agents texted anti-Trump messages, and the final report of who and who was not involved in money laundering, various types of conspiracies, and obstruction of justice are not completed.
However, that the Russians promoted false stories on social media to help Trump and hurt Clinton and that Trump’s staff did not knowingly collude with the Russian social media campaign are facts that are no longer widely disputed thanks to the detailed evidence revealed in the indictment of thirteen Russians. https://www.justice.gov/file/1035477 Among many examples in the indictment were Russians posing as Americans who generated Facebook posts alleging Hillary Clinton has already committed voter fraud during the Democrat Iowa Caucus. And tweeting voter fraud was being investigated in North Carolina or with #VoterFraud by counting tens of thousands of ineligible mail in Hillary votes. The Presidential commission charged to find three million illegal voters was disbanded this January for lack of evidence.
For more, visit http://www.mufticforumblog.blogspot.com.
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