While we continue worrying about unstable and discomforting decisions being made by our nation’s executive and legislative branches of government, our own General Assembly here in North Carolina also has dubious leadership at the moment. This was confirmed in a News & Observer story revealing that Senate leader Phil Berger changes the headlines (and sometimes the featured images) of links he shares on Facebook. Although he posts links to actual news stories, his staff manipulates the headline so that fb readers see a headline, and occasionally a picture, chosen by Berger’s staff, not by the newspaper.
“The person managing Berger’s page used a little-known Facebook tool to change the headline on the article being shared, making it appear that the headline was written by the news organization. A typical user of Facebook can’t make such a change, but a manager of a professional or group page can. Facebook says Berger’s use of the tool violates its policies.”
This strange hybrid of fake news -what is posted- and real news -what is in the link- clearly violates fb’s policy against misleading readers. Facebook and the newspaper have both complained formally to Berger’s office. The Senate leader’s staff remain in denial about their wrongdoing.
““We reject the assertion that posting an original hyperlink to unaltered content is somehow ‘misleading’ – Facebook allows this basic discretion to all other pages and we question why they are targeting Sen. Berger,” [spokeswoman Amy] Auth said. She did not address the issue of why Berger’s staff altered the headlines on Berger’s Facebook page. “We reject the assertion that posting an original hyperlink to unaltered content is somehow ‘misleading’”…”
Our state senators need to speak out against this practice, and sanction their colleague for manipulating news reports before ‘sharing’ them with the public. This is an inexcusable and indefensible distortion. If Berger refuses to recognize it, our legislators need to demand new leadership. The Republicans’ supermajority is undeniable. Their selection of an unethical charlatan to lead them was not inevitable. Call your state senator to find out what their position is on this, and let them know yours.
Keep the faith. Stay awake. Keep in touch.