Sadly, thanks to how easy Facebook made it for anybody to build pages by jacking memes and news stories as their own, it’s led to hundreds of “news” aggregators and media outlets popping up since around 2010 that seem to fulfill no purpose other than sensationalizing everything possible for easy money, with little regard for truth. And if you think that most of those outlets are conservative in their politics, you’re sadly mistaken.
That said, I’ve made it clear over the years that I’ll call out and fact-check liberals and so-called “liberal” sources when I feel it’s necessary, and today is certainly one of those times. This morning I saw a meme shared by a massive Facebook page that many of you may have heard of called “Being Liberal” that I felt needed to be called out for being outright fake news. Not the “fake news” Donald Trump, Fox News, and the conservative media talk about whenever they’re faced with facts they don’t like — but actual fake news.
Here’s the post:
That right there — is total bullshit.
That is, by any measure of factual reality, fake news.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not defending Walmart (in fact, here’s an article we just published where I ripped into them over this move), but what I am defending is the credible sharing of factual information from “my side” of the political aisle.
The facts are that Sam’s Club — which is owned by Walmart — is closing around 63 clubs (not 250), putting around 9-10k jobs (not 100k) at risk. A simple search on Google by anyone who cared the least bit about making sure they were posting something that was factually accurate could have told them that.
To put into perspective just how insanely inaccurate these numbers are, there are a total of 803 Sam’s Clubs all over the world (597 in the U.S., 206 internationally). Which means if this meme was accurate (it’s not), Sam’s Club would be closing 31 percent of its clubs.
Then if you do the math, roughly 150 people work at each club (as someone who formerly worked for Sam’s Club, that’s about accurate). So if you do that math (803 clubs + 150 per club) that comes out to 120,450 employees (or “associates” as they’re called at Walmart).
So, to further prove how ridiculous this meme is, that would mean Sam’s Club is going to lay off about 83 percent of its entire workforce. That would leave around 37 employees per club.
It’s at this point I’d like to point out that, as of writing this, the meme was still active on the Being Liberal Facebook page with over 30k shares. Which means this woefully inaccurate information has likely been spread to and seen by a few hundred thousand people, most of whom will believe it without actually fact-checking it for themselves.
Furthermore, of the actual 9-10k jobs put at risk due to these closures, not all of those associates are going to be laid off. Some are going to be offered the ability to transfer to other clubs, while others will be offered positions at distribution centers or actual Walmart stores. So while there’s currently no way of knowing how many people will lose their jobs because of this (though it’s likely to be a few thousand), it certainly won’t be anywhere near the 100k this meme claims are being let go.
Whether or not this was a blatant attempt by Being Liberal to mislead people doesn’t really matter at this point. Numbers as egregiously wrong as these should have been fact-checked before they were ever turned into a meme, let alone posted. When you run a page as large as Being Liberal (currently 1.6 million followers) you have a responsibility to be as factually accurate as possible with everything that you post. Sadly, quickly attracting shares and new “likes” is still more important to many people.
I’m not saying that mistakes won’t happen, but it would have taken all of a few seconds to do a quick Internet search to determine that almost nothing in this meme was factually accurate. So this was either an attempt to willfully mislead their 1.6 million followers because they wanted the quick boost in activity, or flat-out incompetence. Either way, everyone on the left should call this type of behavior out because it makes us look no better than the corrupt right-wing media which often blatantly pushes out lies, propaganda, and misinformation to mislead the people naive enough to follow them.
If we’re going to claim we care about facts, reality, and what’s true — then we need to make damn certain those are what we care about first before sharing something simply because it sounds like something we want to be real. Especially knowing the lengths chaos agents have gone to in trying to influence our electorate with “false amplifiers” and other methods.
While I’d hope Being Liberal would do the right thing by removing the post and create another where they correct their mistake, the damage has already been done. For thousands of people, their “facts” about this story will have come from that ridiculously incorrect meme, and no amount of fact-checking or sharing of the truth will ever reach everybody who shared it.
As I’ve said for years now, if we’re going to hold the right accountable for the lies they spread, then we need to do the same for sources on the left that, increasingly far too often, are quick to share or publish something first — then ask questions later, seemingly for no other reason than to keep bringing in new “likes” and in turn, more revenue.
And if that’s the road many on the left are fine going down, then we have to stop pretending that we’re any better than those on the right who seem to think “facts” are whatever the hell they want to believe, no matter how inaccurate. If we’re going to claim we’re better than those who believe in delusions over reality, then we have to work just as hard at making sure facts are what we’re using to support our beliefs as we do combating the ignorant lies being spread by conservatives.
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