Colorado’s elected Republican leaders apparently aren’t posting as much fake news as they once did on Facebook.
By fake news I mean, verifiably false information disguised as real news.
Yes, that’s bad, as is the fact that during the last election, not a single Colorado Republican elected to a state office said they opposed Trump, whose name is synonymous with lies.
But I’ve been looking for hopeful signs this spring, and I don’t see elected officials spreading fake news on Facebook as they did in 2016 and 2017, when the Colorado Times Recorder caught seven Colorado state legislators posting fake news on their Facebook pages (See here and here.). Three removed it (then state Rep. Polly Lawrence, R-Colo Springs, state Rep. Susan Lontine, D-Denver, and then state Rep. Kit Roupe, R-Colorado Springs). Two told me they would not remove it (then state Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, R-Colorado Springs, and then state Sen. Tim Neville, R-Jefferson County). And two lawmakers did not respond to my request that it be deleted (then state Rep. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, and then state Sen. Laura Woods, R-Westminster/Arvada).
Spreading fake headlines has objectively been more of a Republican problem in Colorado than a Democratic one, at least with respect to elected officials, but Democrats aren’t immune.
And it’s not gone away. Over the last year or so, multiple Republican entities (e.g., Chaffee County Republican Party) and noisemakers (e.g., former Congressman Tom Tancredo) routinely spread misinformation on Facebook, but the flood of fake headlines has subsided somewhat, with exceptions (e.g., state Rep. Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock).
Why the shift?
The decline in blatant fake news is thanks, in part, to the efforts of Facebook to tag it, shaming those who spread it. And restricting its reach or flat-out canceling egregious perpetrators for good reason.
In other words, there’s less fake news out there to temp Republicans.
And it’s possible that the larger conversation about bogus news outlets has made Republicans warier to spread outrageous headlines from dubious sources.
In any case, these days you don’t expect to see a Colorado elected official try to post baseless “Breaking News” that Hillary Clinton “Sold Weapons to ISIS,” as then state Rep. Ray Scott did in 2017.
It happens, but you don’t expect a state lawmaker to post a headline like, “Court Quietly Confirms that ONE Children’s Vaccine Does Cause Autism,” as Woods did in 2016.
The misinformation is still out there, but the fake headlines shared approvingly by elected Republicans seem to be in decline.
What’s great is, I never expected this situation to be better now than it was when Trump was elected. Did you? …Enjoy the spring flowers.