Selective News, Poor Logic and the Far Right


As social media giants become more aware of how their platforms are used to promote hatred, racism and conspiracy theories and they take steps to help identify and prevent abuse, it has become increasingly more difficult for out and out bigots to maintain a presence on mainstream channels. Resisting Hate have looked in depth at how fascists have been forced to adopt alternative platforms like Telegram and Bitchute to promote their biased hate agendas.

Most of the accounts on social media who get reported and suspended are guilty of harassment, abusive language or hate speech. But the far right are waking up to the idea that if they avoid these pitfalls and conduct themselves in a different manner they can maintain accounts for longer and grow a bigger following and a larger audience.

There is a common technique being employed which enables far right accounts to avoid suspension and to continue indoctrinating others. This involves posting neutral, mainstream sources, often from credible mainstream news sites but selectively highlighting material that only serves to promote a specific agenda.

This is problematic from a reporting perspective because the posts are factually correct and not offensive and because any single tweet/post taken in isolation looks innocuous as it is simply a news post. But the holistic picture is very different which is why social media sites need to look at reports in the context of the account that is being reported.

One of the biggest names Resisting Hate tried to get suspended on Twitter was Amy Mek. Amy’s time line is comprised of literally only Islamophobic posts. The posts are mainly from external sources which she links to in her tweets. She rarely makes her own comments, she rarely tags other people into her tweets and she never engages in debate with anyone who does not support her views. I actually struggled to gain access to her tweets to screenshot them as she is so careful with her account that she has blocked pretty much every left leaning person I know on Twitter.

Because of this Amy Mek’s account is teflon coated. It is frustrating and it certainly highlights the fact that Twitter has a long way to go in the fight against hate speech but for the time being at least Ms Mek appears free to conduct her hate campaign.

Selective news is problematic because it leads to two key errors in logic which in turn contribute to the indoctrination and the radicalisation of the young, the vulnerable and the ignorant.

The first logical fallacy is the concept that all negative (usually criminal behaviour) is conducted by a specific community. This can be expressed with the illogical syllogism:

Violence happens

All the documented violence on this timeline is committed by black people

All violence is committed by black people

The second logical fallacy is the concept that all people belonging to a specific community group or demographic are guilty of the same behaviour as a given highlighted individual. This can be expressed with the illogical syllogism:

Violence happens

All the documented violence on this timeline is committed by black people

All black people commit acts of violence

Both syllogisms are equally nonsensical. It is very easy to put together a timeline of criminal activity conducted specifically by any community group. This would have no bearing on the criminal activity performed by other community groups.

Or in other words – you can point out as many examples of black people committing acts of violence as you like. There are just as many examples of White or Asian people doing the same thing.

And you can provide as many examples of black people committing acts of violence as you like, it is ridiculous to assume that doing so adds any credibility to accusing all black people of the same act.

(This kind of false reasoning applies to examples all across the far right agenda. Nazi groups like Patriotic Alternative post about Jews, Tommy Robinson’s followers post about Muslims and dodgy racist channels post about black people. It all adds up to the same manipulative bias.)

The trouble is that selective news can be very emotive. News items are chosen for their shock value. And it works. I am horrified at the animal abuse, rape, child abuse and violence that are posted day after day on the fash accounts that I monitor. They are intended to invoke disgust and derision and they do. But the problem comes when the disgust and derision is channelled into hatred of the demographic rather than anger at the individual or the act.

I am always being asked (based on my activism against Islamophobia) why I don’t care about the victims of grooming gangs. The individuals who do abuse children I absolutely want to see behind bars. But the hysteria directed at 1.8 billion people by intellectually challenged thugs like Tommy Robinson who want to smear the peaceful majority with the evil acts of a tiny minority is dangerous and wrong. I understand that it is illogical to use the acts of the minority to defame the majority but I suspect this kind of rational reasoning is lost on a lot of Robinson’s supporters.

And there lies the heart of the issue. It is precisely those who struggle with critical thinking who are the most likely to be indoctrinated into illogical nonsense. And it is these people who need to be protected from the abuse of social media to promote one sided and racist agendas.

Roanna Carleton Taylor


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