Last week’s Chicken Licken drama was an interesting example of how easily some people are fooled.
The whole thing was about an offensive Facebook post, supposedly from the fried chicken chain that blatantly stereotyped Coloured people as a group that has no front teeth.
Naturally many immediately went into defensive mode, with some not mincing their four-letter words to express their dissatisfaction.
Ironically, some of those choice words are very stereotypically Coloured.
As for the original post that sparked those responses, there were so many red flags that it was almost immediately clear that it was fake.
The language and the Gmail address were the most obvious. And while big brands have of course made themselves guilty of subtle racism in the past, blatantly offensive sentiment from big retailers – especially ones that service our communities – should always be treated as suspect.
Eventually the fast food chain had to put the record straight.
There have been numerous stories like this over the last few years, and misinformation about the Covid vaccines is the latest example of this type of fake news.
All these stories should make us aware of how quick people are to believe what they see on Facebook and other social media.
This incident is proof that there are sick individuals out there, who sit and think up ways to mislead and confuse us.
They have enough skill to use their fancy computer equipment to create documents that look credible enough to fool and infuriate people.
Chicken Licken may have survived the drama, but when it comes to misleading posts about the vaccines and other health matters, some people may not survive.
In fact, Facebook is in the news at the moment for this very sort of thing – allowing fake news to spread, because it serves their financial interests.
So it is up to people like myself to keep fighting to educate people with the truth.
If you don’t know how to spot a fake story, or how to deconstruct a seemingly strong but suspect argument, then it is understandable that you might fall for these things.
Let me give you an example of something I noticed recently. Almost every pro-jab person I speak to has a different sensible argument for why they believe in the vaccines.
They each strike me as having given it some very clear thought before deciding to take the jab.
Most of them don’t bother getting involved in the types of online confrontations I seem to get myself involved in.
They just quietly go about the business, firm in the belief that they’ve done the right thing.
In fact, most pro-vaxxers aren’t nearly as militant about it, as anti-vaxxers seem to be.
I don’t think they even get the irony of thousands of anti-vaxxers bleating in unison about how they are not sheep, while being herded together in the same pen, by the same misinformation that makes them believe they are right.
They shout about how Covid is a man-made disease, but insist that your natural immune system is capable of fighting off an unnatural disease?
That is one of the dumbest things I have ever heard.
They also insist on a global conspiracy involving the mainstream media, but have no problem with quoting the very same mainstream media in support of their anti-vax arguments.
We are only part of the conspiracy when it suits them. It all points towards a herd of weak-minded people who want to have their cake and eat it.
On a slightly different note, I have been surfing through the comments section again and came across quite a few that were unhappy with what I wrote last week.
This comment from Gail Van Der Speck is a good example of many of the attacks and criticisms, but also shows how much education is needed around mainstream journalism.
Referring to me, she wrote: “A reporter that only writes about his own opinion. Opinion isn’t fact dude,” which is of course an entirely accurate and reasonable observation to make.
Except for the fact that, while I am indeed a trained reporter - this is an opinion page.
Like most credible newspapers, we make a clear distinction between news – written by our reporters, and opinion – written by commentators. Sometimes the individuals may overlap, but seldom the content.
And it is always a good idea to understand the difference.