Home Indiana Agriculture News Commentary: Farmers Would Welcome Fact Checking

Commentary: Farmers Would Welcome Fact Checking


President Trump is currently in a fight with social media. The President. who has used social media to his advantage, is now threatening to shut down Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Google.

He maintains they are censoring information, especially conservative points of view. The feud started when they announced they would start fact checking Mr. Trump’s tweets and, on Friday, started tagging the President’s tweets with a warning label.

Meanwhile, farmers want to know where these tech giants have been for the past decade when it comes to fact checking messages about agriculture.

Many ag advocates say social media has given farmers the opportunity to tell their story and talk directly to consumers. To a certain extent, this is true. In my opinion, however, the damage that has been done by sophisticated, well-organized, well-funded, anti-ag groups has outweighed the benefits.

Much of the misinformation and misconceptions the public has about how their food is produced can be tried directly to the disinformation campaigns waged on a variety of social media channels.

Where were the fact checkers on the plethora of celebrities and organizations who regularly tweet misinformation about food and animal production?

Corporate America, including a cadre of restaurant chains and food brands, has also published incorrect or incomplete information about agriculture to justify their marketing campaigns.

Where have the trigger warnings been on the creatively edited and misleading undercover videos posted by anti-animal organizations of often dubious origin?

Even the EPA has admitted it attempted to use social media to influence public opinion about the Waters of the U.S. rule.

With the abysmal record of accuracy that social media has, it continues to amaze me that people still believe what they read on these sites.

In my opinion, most of what you read on social media has no more validity than what you might see spray painted on a public bathroom wall.

The owners of these platforms have been more interested in the number of interactions, collecting your personal data, and tracking your on-line behavior.

This is where they make millions of dollars daily.

I have no idea how the current spat between the President and Twitter will or should end.

But, if it gets people to begin to question what comes across their phones or computers, that will be good.

It may also serve as a wake up call to the management of these platforms to pay attention to what they are actually distributing.

While censorship is not the answer, some sort of standards of professionalism, fairness, and accountability need to be maintained.

This will not stop unidentified bots and activist groups from filling social media with bilge, but it may get people to take some of the false claims about agriculture that fill this space a little less seriously.