Roy Moore’s wife posts fake news on Facebook to discredit his accusers
Connect with your neighbor, build a community, then make sure everyone believes that the media is out to get Senate candidate Roy Moore.
That’s not really what Mark Zuckerberg wants Facebook to be used for, at least not that last part. Yet it’s exactly what the wife of the Alabama Supreme Court judge accused of sexual misconduct is doing on Facebook in a “Friends of Roy Moore” group. And the weaponization of Facebook seems awfully normal.
Alongside posts from Breitbart and Fox News, Moore’s wife, Kayla, has posted articles from a smorgasbord of far-right websites including GatewayPundit.com, USANewsMagazine.com, and ConservativeDailyPost.com offering up misleading information about the Washington Post‘s report that her husband, now 70, made sexual advances on four teens when he was a 32-year-old district attorney in Alabama. Since the Post‘s report, a fifth woman has come forward with her story of sexual assault when she was 16.
What is disturbing about these posts is how extremely at home they seem on Facebook. The social network is now so casually weaponized that the wife of a Senate candidate spreading misinformation about serious allegations seems downright quaint.
Facebook’s fake news problem is now well chronicled. The social network was even hauled in front of Congress to explain how it could let Russia-connected groups spread divisive propaganda to almost half the U.S. population to influence the 2016 election.
In response, Facebook has built new hurdles through attempts to at least label posts that are misleading or outright false, as well as increase restrictions on who can buy ads. Those efforts have led to mixed reviews, with some fact-checking partners that work with Facebook claiming even they don’t know if the labeling is working.
And how could they? Facebook has been so thoroughly weaponized that it’s hard to view this all that differently from what your tin-hat wearing uncle or deranged high school friend might post. Combined with the platform’s potential for massive reach, there’s nowhere else to spread these kinds of messages. If Facebook is now a far-reaching newspaper printed in everyone’s home town, Twitter is a HAM radio used by a handful of hobbyists
Outside of Facebook, things don’t look good for Moore. After the initial reaction of “he should step down if true,” fellow Republicans have become more outspoken in their desire to see Moore leave the race. Even House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has generally resisted wading into controversial topics since the election of President Donald Trump, has taken a stand.
The credibility of these allegations is not in serious doubt, but the Moores’ credibility is. In one Facebook post, Kayla Moore displayed a letter of support for her husband claiming to have been signed by more than 50 Alabama pastors.
Turns out, not all those pastors agreed to sign the letter, and the letter itself appeared to be manipulated based on a previous letter from earlier in Moore’s campaign, according to Alabama news website AL.com. Numerous pastors have said they were not asked to sign the letter.
But that doesn’t matter much to the Moores, Moore’s supporters, or Facebook. This is what the platform was made to do, and it’s doing it very effectively.