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How should I respond to false claims on social media?

It’s impossible to correct every wrong statement on the internet. On the other hand, it’s not a good idea to simply let false or misleading information go completely unchallenged. It can be very rewarding when someone thanks you for correcting a mistake or helping someone to learn when they sincerely want to know how things work. On the other hand, people who take it upon themselves to be vigilante educators—seeking out and correcting every lie and mistake they can find on social media—very quickly become angry and tired, which results in them making mistakes, lashing out, and ultimately causing more harm than good.

If you are on social media and find yourself confronted with inaccurate claims about The Satanic Temple, you will need to pay attention to where your “tipping point” is so that you do not unintentionally end up causing problems in your effort to help. Getting the “last word” doesn’t matter, but saying the right things does.

Here are a few specific tips that you can keep in mind to guide you when responding to false claims about The Satanic Temple on social media:

  • Don’t assume bad intent at the start of a conversation. A person might be saying something that you know to be misinformation that some have spread deliberately, but that doesn’t mean the person you are engaging with in the moment also has malicious intent. They may be repeating something they heard, and might respond better to receiving a gentle factual correction than being hollered at by someone who assumes they are being malicious.
  • Don’t get tricked into oversharing. One tactic scammers and bad-faith actors often use is to say something that is so absurdly factually incorrect that other people feel compelled to correct it. That can be a tactic for the scammer to learn things that they can then use to manipulate, criticize, or scam people later on.
  • Don’t claim to know that something is true (or false) just because you want it to be true (or false). If someone who chronically lies about The Satanic Temple makes a claim that you believe is false and designed only to disparage TST, but you are not actually familiar with the facts of the matter yourself, stay out of the conversation. Find someone within TST later who would know the facts and ask them, so that you have the facts ready in the next conversation. Giving a knee-jerk reaction in the heat of the moment could damage your credibility and make it harder for others to know who they can trust later on.
  • Similarly, don’t believe and repeat something negative about any person or group simply because they have behaved hatefully toward you or toward TST in the past. People find it very easy to get sucked into believing and repeating any negative thing they hear about religious fundamentalists, bigots, or members of the TST antifandom. When the thing you believed and repeated turns out to be wrong, it is embarrassing for you and it may hurt the credibility of members of The Satanic Temple within that social media community.
  • Don’t bully people. Bullying people is a violation of The Satanic Temple’s Code of Conduct and is never acceptable. If you see someone bullying others, confronting the bully and protecting and caring for the victims are both more helpful responses than simply reenacting vicious behavior in retaliation.

Finally: whenever you come across a false or misleading statement about The Satanic Temple on social media, one way to help is to find the correct information in an article on this website and share the link.

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