I object strenuously to this moderator instruction in the Ukraine Breaking News thread

Generally speaking, the purpose of a breaking news thread is to share information about an emerging event. Developments in a high-profile story can move quickly, so a breaking news thread acts as a sort of clearinghouse for facts as they become known, and corrections as needed where earlier reports are discovered to be inaccurate or incomplete. Some light punditry is tolerable, where analysis gives meaning and context to factual reports, but pure opinion is shifted to other, more appropriate venues.

The “Russia invades Ukraine” thread has been serving this function. News stories are posted where they shed light on various points, or the overall development of the invasion. When a speculative question arises and gets traction — such as the debate about what might trigger Russian use of nuclear weapons, and the potential impact — this is properly relegated to one of the opinion-oriented fora, allowing the thread to re-center itself on its news-sharing mission.

There is one participant in the thread who persistently shares counterfactual links and stories manufactured by the Russian government to advance its political and military interests. I will not name this person, because this is not a Pit thread, but we all know who I’m referring to. They have repeatedly introduced baldfaced propaganda with a straight face, and have been met with repeated pushback.

In response to this disruption, the following mod note was added.

I cannot object strongly enough to this instruction. News threads are supposed to be informative. Propaganda acts directly against this, creating confusion and muddying the discussion. Where it is unopposed, it substitutes a preferred narrative in the place of reality; but in an open conversation, its conscious aim is to make it seem difficult or impossible to get a handle on the facts. It is an ill-intentioned effort to push the discussion away from objectivity and toward unfettered subjectivity.

We have to be able to respond to this. Otherwise the whole purpose of a news thread is defeated. The propagandist can repeat their takeaway points — and ours certainly is — over and over again (“Part of Russia.” “Part of Russia.” “Part of Russia”), planting seeds of doubt and confusion and trying to bump the center of conceptual gravity in the desired direction. We must be able to point this out when it’s happening.

Yes, this is disruptive to the thread. That’s what a propagandist does — disrupt rational thought and discussion. If the disruption is unwelcome, the solution is not to prohibit the argument, the solution is to bar the source of the conflict. Otherwise the propagandist wins.

I agree. Pretty much everything that poster has brought up in that thread has been Russian talking points, not actual news. Other posters have repeatedly pointed out his propaganda. If he keeps using bad source material, it needs to be countered, just as it has been throughout the thread.

Sorry, poorly written mod note.

I did not mean to stop pointing out that a linked article was BS, I meant the meta discussion about the 6 hours of reading/watching various sources.

That was a side issue that did not belong.

Note removed.

Thank you. Much appreciated.

No problem. The note was poorly written and I should have realized it.

Broader question remains tho: will the topic disruptor in question be given a subject, topic, or even a thread ban?

I would suggest a thread for discussing the best techniques for staying informed. His theory that it’s good to know the nonsense put out by everyone is a useful strategy, to me at least, sounds like trying to stay informed by watching Looney Toons cartoons.

I think that for some people it’s just not very much fun to have the news simply delivered to them by normal, trustworthy folks. It’s like having someone else do your jogging or eat your food for you - that’s no fun! They try to make it hard by putting several layers of indirection between themselves and the news, to see if they can puzzle out - through the distortion - what’s happening in the world.

Of course, the end result of that is that they such a long period of time doing that, that they slowly become divorced from what’s actually going on, because they’ve made it too difficult. You just can’t track what’s happening when all you’re doing is watching Looney Toons cartoons.

Personally, I’d say that even following normal news by reasonable and trustworthy folks is still hard enough. There’s a lot to know in the world and they simply can’t look at it long enough to really dive in. You’re still on the losing end, going with the strongest strategy to be informed.

It needs to be discussed actually, I started thinking on it a few days ago.

  • Discussion started.

Was this supposed to be a link or do you want the discussion here?

No, I meant I started it with the Mods.

But feel free to discuss it here if you like.

Sorry, I misunderstood. FWIW, I don’t think a topic ban is needed. It’s not like anyone believes the stuff he posts. People are doing a pretty good job of shooting down his sources.

Was the use of the bullet point not clear to you?! :rage:

(Just kidding, I was confused too. :laughing:)

But how much time and space should we give deliberate disinformation?

The poster in question is so clearly posting propaganda that the odds of anyone spending more than a few seconds on it are minimal. Also, seeing the propaganda has its own entertainment value.

I never was a fan of “Let the train wrecks happen-they’re fun to watch!”. Deliberate agitators have a nearly unlimited amount of e-space to spread shit, so limiting their exposure here is no way a denial of their freedom of expression, btw.

It seems that the logical response would be for that poster to be banned from that thread.

I concur.

I don’t remember anyone suggesting that it was. The poster in question has his/her own pit thread “In defense of Russia,” among countless other places to post. I just don’t see the merit to a ban, unless specific rules are being broken.

The merit would seem to be about keeping a breaking news thread to be about breaking news, and not constantly needing to debunk propaganda.

Ideally, if everyone could tell the difference, I’d suggest just having a separate thread for propaganda, and keeping only reasonably verified facts from reasonably reputable sources in the breaking news thread. But, when one guy is apparently posting so much propaganda without realizing it, I can see a thread ban to them.

And, yes, this might also mean leaving out unverified pro-Ukraine sources. But that makes sense to me. Rumors aren’t news.

But take my opinion with a grain of salt, as I’d already stopped following the thread before now.

I am stridently pro-Ukraine and I have no problem with that.