It’s so difficult to sort the fake news from the real stuff these days … and I don’t mean it in the delusional Trump sense of the word.
It disturbs me that social media can so easily spread lies, with people taking them at face value.
I overheard two women discussing why Labor lost the election yesterday. Both noted how foolish the Labor party had been to propose bringing back the Death Tax. They opined that the policy, which they pegged at 25%, was one of the main reasons voters turned against the party.
I was stunned by what I heard and shocked that Labor had supported something so polarising. I wouldn’t have been too keen on voting for that.
I thought it went some way towards explaining why Labor lost.
But it niggled at me, because it seemed so unlikely and I hadn’t heard anything about it during my daily trawling of news websites.
So I Googled “death tax” and. sure enough, it was total bull.
The Labor party didn’t propose any such thing.
As The Guardian noted earlier this week: “An invention claiming Labor planned to introduce a death tax, for example, appears to have begun on unsourced Facebook pages, spread to other users via direct messages and paid ads, before finally being amplified by Coalition politicians.”
Users received direct Facebook messages stating “Labor, the Greens and Unions have signed an agreement to introduce a 40% inheritance tax”.
That’s even worse than the 25% the women I overheard thought it was.
Queensland LNP MP George Christensen paid for three Facebook ads on Labor’s supposed death tax, one of which said “we know Labor have secret plans to bring in a death tax”.
Meanwhile, in a video posted to her Facebook page, One Nation leader Pauline Hanson told a huge crowd of people that Bill Shorten and Labor would reintroduce a 40% death tax if they gained power.
And most people simply accepted it as fact.
What other lies are we being told that we believe?
In the US, for example, politicians are justifying draconian abortion legislation with falsehoods.
Among the ridiculous notions they are espousing include the belief that women’s bodies repel sperm when they are raped, so they won’t get pregnant.
And so, inexorably, the number of constituents who believe it rises too.
Yep, very, very scary.