Sunday, May 22, 2016

Facebook and a Doctored Cake the drama regarding a cake sold at an Austin Whole Foods turns out to have been the result of a crudely executed hoax (as many of us predicted). Turns out, the bakery employee who served Pastor Jordan Brown actually isn't a latent homophobe who added a three-letter homophobic slur to Brown's order (as many of us warned). Video evidence demonstrates that Brown likely added it himself (as many of us suspected) so as to set up a narrative of evil and bigotry.

I'm happy that Whole Foods's name has been cleared; in fact, the market has dropped its countersuit against Brown. Of course, the "never mind" part just never seems to be given the prominence that the original charge, does it?

Mr. XYZ Accused of Sexual Assault (front page)
Charges Against Mr. XYZ Dropped; Accusations Proven Invalid (p. 18., lower-right corner)

I think I'd put a few chips on the table to say that this happened on social media in the Whole Foods story. Remember that to say that something has "gone viral" is to compare a story to something quite harmful, and often fatal. That close-up photo of that bad little word that rhymes with "bag" was probably posted by a few million Facebook users by the time fifteen minutes had elapsed after the story first hit the 'net, accompanied by the contest of Who Can Denounce This in the Strongest Terms -- without waiting to see if there was more to the story or not. See also "University of Virginia" or anything said by a Republican figure that HuffPo can then twist into something horrible.

A university student will scream and holler about a racial slur or a swastika made out of feces she found on her dorm-room dry-erase board. The Twitterverse will explode. It'll be the top thing trending on FB. Then, the administration will tell her that, not to worry, we'll look at the video at who did it.

"" she'll ask nervously.

And, then -- as many of us guessed -- the video will show that the student herself was the one to adorn the offending word(s) or image(s) there, so she could complain about how bigoted her school is. Then the story will probably fade out on social media, without any real contrition or retraction. After all, it served its purpose just fine. There'll be another fake thing coming along any day now to satisfy our righteous indignation.

Of course, we know that the good people of Planet Zuckerberg will see to it that everything's made square, right?

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