Facebook's election 'war room' takes aim at fake information

A man works at his desk in the war room where Facebook monitored election-related content on the platform in 2018.

With looming questions about our environment, economy and basic survival in a war-torn world, I am of the opinion that the most important thing we can teach our young people is what is truth and how to discern truth from fiction and where should they search to find answers that will affect our global society for decades and years to come.

We look to our learning institutions, teachers and books to identify and locate the truth, but these sources may be incomplete. I suggest that we not put our money in the snazziest book bags or newest apparel, but in equipping our children with the right questions to ascertain what is truth and the best research skills they can develop.

With each headline and news blast we hear statements that challenge the truth of many circumstances. To be perfectly clear, we, the generation of the 21st century, will be turning over a world of warring tribes, climate change, economic challenges and the search for justice to a civilization of people who aren’t sure or can’t explain the chaos.

Our education on every level, in schools and in our homes and communities, must put more of an emphasis on both hearing and expounding what is true and accurate.

We understand that the goal of education is to foster intelligence, plus character, which are both needed to make solid decisions about what to do, how to act and where in the future we should be going.

Do our schools teach moral attributes? Do parents teach this to their children? Today, most schools and teachers shy away from the teaching of morals in adherence to keeping church and school separate. I suggest that to discover the truth requires that we look through our moral lenses.

Several years ago, I read a book by M. Scott Peck titled “People of the Lie” written in 1983. I can’t paraphrase everything in the book, but others have reviewed it over the years and I came across a reviewer by the name of Dr. Lepora Flournoy. She listed the attributes of these people of the lie, that align closely to what I remember in the book:

• They urge to seek control over others

• They have a lack of empathy

• They exhibit a permeating problem toward negative behavior

• They strategically plan and calculate toward the wrongdoing to others

• They tend to be atypical

• They tend to not show remorse

• They tend to not be corrected by punishment.

Our judicial system is also where our young citizens will need their ability to discern the truth, for if they can’t do it in the courts, where they must at some time fulfill their civic duty, then we are really in trouble and our future is in jeopardy.

Witnesses in a court of law recite the following: “I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”

If we state something that is not a fact, this is considered a lie of commission, which is telling someone something that is simply not true, twisting the truth to create a version of something that happened.

“The whole truth” is where you leave out an important part of information. Are many of our textbooks guilty of this? These lies of omission may have been corrected now, but in the past, history books didn’t contain all of the facts about native peoples, slavery in America and the Holocaust. If information is left out then the reader doesn’t know the whole truth.

“And nothing but the truth” is called a character lie or lie of influence, since you are told something completely unrelated to the truth to cover up a lie.

If our learning institutions teach young people about how to recognize lies, then hopefully students will not only be able to recognize the truth, but will become a more truthful member of our society and will be more apt to tell the truth themselves.

In all aspects of our world, it is imperative that we begin to recognize and embrace the truth about ourselves and our world. As a familiar Bible quote goes, “You will know the truth and the truth will make you free.” Free to survive in a truthful manner in a less chaotic world.

Denise Reed is the conductor of the North Coast Chorale.

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