Community means connecting people intimately and over time to share interests, worldviews, concerns, needs, values, empathy, and action. Facebook now says it wants to “prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people.” I think that should be meaningful, lasting, and trusting interactions among people, plural. Think of community not as a cocktail party (or drunken online brawl) where friends and strangers idly chat. Instead, think of community a club one chooses to join, the sorts of clubs that society has been losing since my parents’ generation grew old. Meetup has been trying to rebuild them. So should we all.
Once hoaxes, fake news, and lies have been discovered and debunked, does receiving the verified information have a direct effect on public opinion? The answer is a qualified yes, says Mantzarlis. While confirmation bias, motivated reasoning, or a lack of media literacy might cloud our judgement, we are only ‘fact-resistant’ and not ‘fact-immune’. Drawing our attention to correct information does not lead to a backfire effect, but forces us to reconsider what we already believe to be true.