Greta Thunberg busted for misleading public about her train voyage
Poor Greta Thunberg. The 16-year-old Swedish climate activist renowned for skipping school and accusing world leaders of “doing nothing,” allegedly had to travel in a little less comfort than what she is used to on her way home from the UN Climate Conference in Madrid and tweeted about it:
“Traveling on overcrowded trains through Germany. And I’m finally on my way home!”
Deutsche Bahn, Germany’s state railway company, however, had this to say:
“Dear #Greta, thank you for supporting our railway in the fight against climate change! We are happy that you travelled with us in the ICE 174. And that with 100 percent eco electricity. It would have been even better if you had also mentioned how friendly and competent the team looked after you in your seat in First Class.”
This seems to suggest that Thunberg is willing to bend the truth to suit her agenda, although, the day after—after a backlash on Twitter—she made clear that she had only been on the floor for part of her journey, and that overcrowded trains were in fact a “great sign because that means that the demand for train travel is high!”
Although many wished Greta a good journey home, there was plenty of criticism, too, not just directed towards the activist, but towards Deutsche Bahn for poor service, and for disclosing that she had indeed been travelling with them (even if Greta had tweeted about her journey before DB replied to her on Twitter).
This stunt has been tried before. Three years ago, Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the UK Labour Party who lost the election to Boris Johnson and the Conservatives last week, claimed that the train he was travelling on was overcrowded and was shown sitting on the floor of the carriage, making a political point about alleged under-funding and mismanagement of the British railways, arguing they needed to be re-nationalized.
Yet later he was found to have passed through an almost empty carriage, where he could have chosen a comfortable seat with a view and a table if he had so wished, before he made the video on the floor of the corridor instead.
Like Corbyn, Thunberg seems to thrive on pointing out faults in our society, and her mission is to show that we need to “change the system.” And like so many angry, young protesters before her, “everything” is wrong—she even admits to this in her latest op-ed, co-signed by Luisa Neubauer and Angela Valenzuela:
“…the climate crisis is not just about the environment. It is a crisis of human rights, of justice, and of political will. Colonial, racist, and patriarchal systems of oppression have created and fueled it. We need to dismantle them all. Our political leaders can no longer shirk their responsibilities.”
Being economical with the truth, no matter what your intentions are, tends to come back and bite you. If she wants to keep sympathy for her cause strong, perhaps her team of PR consultants should make sure she doesn’t exaggerate her plight. After all, most 16-year-olds can only dream of travelling the world on state-of-the-art yachts and in first-class train carriages while skipping school for months at a time.
From pointing out ad nauseam that Friday the 13th isn’t anything special (it can happen up to three times a year) and that it’s only about as rare as Thursday the 12th, or that a solar eclipse event is nothing to blink at, Neil DeGrasse Tyson is now weighing in with observations on children’s cartoons.
Not that anybody asked, but the astronomer is at it again by making points nobody ever asked for. The celebrity astrophysicist once celebrated for his down-to-earth explanations of how the universe works, has achieved no small amount of notoriety by taking the fun and mystery out of everything one could conceivably think of.
Tyson took to Twitter late Sunday night to proclaim that the size of Elsa’s eyes in Frozen were disproportionate to the size of her head. “Not that anybody asked, but if Elsa from ‘Frozen’ has a Human-sized Head then she has Horse-sized Eyeballs—occupying 4x the normal volume within her cranium,” he said. “I’m just sayin’.”
No shit. The same could be said of any other character in Frozen—not to mention the fact that snowmen can’t come to life and magic doesn’t exist. It’s not something that needs to be pointed out. But bereft of any real topics to talk about besides fearmongering about climate change and condemning people who marvel at the eclipse but doubt the science of climate change, the only time Tyson enters the public eye is when he makes an obsequious, ornery observation about the obvious.
It wasn’t the only tweet he let loose about the Disney blockbuster. Tyson also pointed out that the scene with the ice harvesters cutting out ice cubes in the opening scene of the movie properly depicted how ice floats “as they should, with about 10% above the surface and 90% below. Just as in icebergs.” Indeed, ice floats.
Not one to simply criticize the movie for its unrealistic body proportions (have you no mind for people with body dysmorphic disorder, Neil?) and unrealistic talking snowmen, Tyson praised the film for “authentically” representing the Northern Lights in the film’s Nordic setting. I am shook.
As with most of his tweets, anything he says tends to go viral because the “f*ck yeah, science!” brigade can’t help but treat his words as gospel. Granted, nothing he said was false, but honestly … how pedestrian. You hate to see it.
Twitter has censored an official video released by RNC Research, which is managed by the Republican Party in the United States. In the video, manufacturing workers in the “blue collar room” praise President Donald Trump for his work on strengthening the US economy.
Subtitled “I’ve seen it getting better and better,” the RNC Research video was flagged by Twitter as a piece of media containing “potentially sensitive content.” Precisely what is “sensitive” about the President’s accomplishments is something only Twitter’s moderation team—and no one else—knows.
The censorship was quickly pointed out by Steve Guest, the GOP’s Rapid Response Director, who was signal boosted by the President’s son, Donald Trump Jr., who wrote: “This is a disgrace. Something we should be celebrating the social media masters are censoring such bullsh*t!”
In recent days, the social media platform has come under fire for its move to crack down on “doctored” videos and other forms of deceptive media, including memes. Journalists in the mainstream media cried foul earlier today over a “deceptively edited” video published by the Mike Bloomberg campaign account that showed him mocking his opponents with the sound of crickets playing in the background.
Following the outcry, a company spokesperson for Twitter told Huffington Post that the Bloomberg video would “likely” be labelled as manipulated media under its new rules, which take effect next month.
The rules may be forthcoming, but Twitter—it seems—is already hard at work to prevent any of Trump’s accomplishments from gaining any traction.
Twitter is working out ways to combat misinformation on the platform, and one of the ideas, per a leaked draft to NBC, is to add warning labels beneath perceived lies and misinformation.
Posts by politicians or their campaigns would be vetted by verified fact-checkers and journalists. Presumably, these people would be entirely objective and able to parse information evenly, cleanly, and without any personal bias whatsoever.
This effort comes in the wake of a rollout of a new policy from Twitter to detect and delete deep fakes and manipulated videos. The new system would also enable something of a social credit component, where “users could earn ‘points’ and a ‘community badge’ if they ‘contribute in good faith and act like a good neighbour’ and ‘provide critical context to help people understand information they see.”
Per NBC, “The points system could prevent trolls or political ideologues from becoming moderators if they differ too often from the broader community in what they mark as false or misleading.” What that means is that one, lone, dissenting voice, that does not go along with the opinion of everyone else, could lose their status as a moderator simply because they are willing to diverge from the group opinion. Having an opinion that differs too often will be reason for invalidation.
That an entire group thinks one thing does not make it true. Truth is not discerned by the number of people who believe it. In fact, the mere fact of total consensus is reason enough to investigate.
Warning labels are present in many aspects of life. They are on both prescription and over the counter drugs, on car seats, side view mirrors, and at the edge of cliffs suggesting we not get too close. Health Canada and the US FDA require ingredients labelling on foods. Tobacco products are covered with images of diseased lungs per government regulation. Information is not something that should come with a warning label.
This is not new, but it is more insidious, given just how much information the public currently consumes. In the 1990s, Tipper Gore advocated for warnings labels to come on albums, and she succeeded. Perhaps nothing was more enticing to a kid than an album with the black and white label reading: Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics. Books by renowned authors like James Joyce were banned for their sexual content.
Tech giants are concerned over their complicity in making misleading or downright incorrect information available for public consumption. They are worried that, as a result of their proprietary algorithms, stories and posts that contain inaccuracies will appear on users’ feeds. What the tech companies want is a corrective. They want to fix it. They want to be able to slap a warning label on there, give it a splashy Pantone shade, and let the issue drop, solved.
If the standard for misinformation were to be applied equally across ideologies, the BuzzFeed’s and Vox’s Twitter feeds would be very colourful indeed. But there’s no reason to believe that will be the case, given past examples. From the dirty Trump dossier to the Covington kids hoax to Jussie Smollett, misinformation flows freely from the woke outlets. And they are always given a pass by big tech.
Andy Ngo had to delete his tweet stating facts from the Human Rights Campaign because they were inconvenient to the progressive narrative. Meghan Murphy is still banned from Twitter for speaking a simple biological truth.
Here’s a thought experiment: How would Twitter categorize this tweet from Hillary Clinton? Is there enough evidence of collusion to warrant her calling Trump Putin’s Puppet?
Twitter’s plan to know what is true based on what the largest quantity of verified moderators believe is true is thoroughly flawed. The plight of heterodox thinkers on Twitter has been well documented, with those who diverge from the common narrative banned or threatened with deletion. Twitter does not know how to discern fact from fiction, and their plan of labelling information with warning labels will stifle truth and discourse, not advance it. The truth is that Twitter is the last place to trust when it comes to the truth.
Teenage Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg tweeted her support for the anti-pipeline protests that have stalled Canada’s economy and left tens of thousands stranded without train transportation.
On Tuesday she tweeted, “Support the Wet’suwet’en Nation and the pipeline protests happening now in Canada! #WetsuwenStrong.” Thunberg included a link to a “Wet’suwet’en Supporter Toolkit.”
The toolkit speaks of “revolution” and claims that reconciliation is dead: “The Wet’suwet’en have been violently invaded and ripped from our ancestral lands, sparking a REVOLUTION. Reconciliation is dead. The time is NOW to recognize indigenous sovereignty around the world! We are asking for folks to continue, harness the power of this catalyzing moment, create sustained action in solidarity, and #ShutDownCanada!”
Many Canadians were unimpressed including prominent conservative pundit Stephen Taylor who pointed out the negative affects these continued protests are having on the environment. “Thanks to the rail blockades, I’ve been flying more. So… win?”
The protests and blockades throughout Canada are a response to the raid of an anti-pipeline camp in northern British Columbia that was set up to oppose the building of the Coastal GasLink pipeline on Wet’suwet’en territory.
Despite the protests, the Wet’suwet’en Tribal Council and the majority of hereditary chiefs support the pipeline project.