It seems that every day, when I’m scrolling through Facebook trying to keep up with college friends and local events, it’s only a few minutes before I come across posts from activist groups doing their best to undermine animal agriculture. The most frustrating thing is that the majority of the time, I’m only seeing these posts because one of my friends (or someone I’m in a group with) has chosen to “share” them in order to rant about how inaccurate the content is or ask others how they should respond.
Here’s a public service announcement: Every time you “share” any post on Facebook – even if your intention is to debunk it or get perspectives from others – you are helping activist groups get eyes on their content.
That’s how Facebook works. The more interactions (likes, shares, comments) a post gets, the more engaging it is and the more likely it is to show up in people’s news feeds. Facebook doesn’t know that you’re only reacting to that post because it made you angry – a share is a share regardless. If you want to send a post to a Facebook friend or a group to get advice for potentially responding, screenshot it! You can pass along all of the same information without helping them get more eyes on their lies.
I understand wanting to shed accurate light on whatever industry practice is being disparaged and absolutely encourage you to do so. If that is your goal, I suggest posting positive information on your own page without even mentioning whatever rumor activist groups are trying to spread. You don’t need to give activists’ claims about pork production more airtime in order to post a photo of a modern hog barn and explain why many pigs are raised indoors.
If you feel you need to acknowledge why you’re sharing a post, you can simply mention you’re seeing a lot of misinformation about something and want to correct it.
Pretty much all of us who care deeply about animal agriculture and consumer perceptions are probably guilty of over-reacting to something and inadvertently helping it get more attention. Next time, let’s remember to count to ten, take a breath and channel our frustration into more positive, proactive outreach efforts.