When you think you have seen everything, that is when you find yourself shaking your head in disbelief. Since the general election campaign has kicked off, I have been following politics really closely to see what dirty tricks emerge. Well, I have found one – and in the age of social media, its a big one.
Yesterday I noticed a chart on a right-wing site that had an article that had been posted to Digg. In the post there was a chart. The chart was supposed to show deficit information about the last 6 presidents. I though to myself ‘wow that doesn’t look good for Obama’ but then I noticed something rather odd. The numbers did not match the chart. When I plugged the same numbers into excel, the chart looked completely different.
This piqued my interest. Was this just a one-off, or were there more to be found. It took me all of 15 minutes to find another one. However, this one used a different technique. This chart claimed to use data from the CBO. When I looked the information up on the CBO web site, the data for Obama was off by 25% for 2009 and 45% for 2010.
Over the next couple of hours I found the same inaccurate charts all over the web. While some claimed to be based on data from governmental agencies (CBO, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and others). Other charts were creative interpretations of data created by right wing think tanks and PACs.
As these graphs make their way to Facebook, how many people are going to be duped? How many people are going to take the time to look up the the data in the chart to see if it is accurate before hitting the Share or Like button? How much milage will the right be able to get off of pure lies and deception? Looks like we are going to find out.
Lesson of the story – when you see a chart on the internet, 1) look at it carefully to see if the scale is off and 2) check the source of the data. If the information varies wildly from the points below, it is probably fake. If you find a fake chart – report it to The Truth Team (if against Obama) and MittRomney.com (if against Romney)
This post was written to describe something I observed on the internet – that is exactly what the post does. The intention of the post was not make the fake charts I saw go viral or to point out specific websites. The intention of the post was to bring up the point that people need to be more savvy in this age and not believe everything that you see on the internet. Do your homework – check the facts – if you find a lie – report it.
If you do not believe my observations, that is absolutely fine. I am not going to expend any energy to try to convince anyone. However, if you look at the next graph on a blog a bit more closely (whether it is right, left or middle) – I think this is a good thing.
IF YOU NOTICE ANY OTHER TECHNIQUES OF POLITICAL DATA, CHART OR GRAPH MANIPULATION – PLEASE SHARE THEM BELOW.
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