Module 6: The Grandmother Problem

The hardest part about the “grandmother problem” is how to address it. How does one go about telling their friend or family member that what they’re doing is potentially harmful? Even if it’s not harmful it’s still not okay to share false news. But how do we go about this?

For most people I’d say this is a tough conversation to have with a friend or family member simply because you don’t know how they’ll react. Because of this reason I think it’s very important to not have this conversation publicly with someone. It’s best to do it privately via direct message, e-mail, text, or even by phone. For me, honesty is the best policy so I don’t like to sugar coat things. I would break the issue down, as needed, so they can understand what is really happening.

Tell them that you understand why the wanted to share what they shared but what they are sharing is not true. Explain what the indicators of a false news page are. Encourage them to ask questions and don’t make them feel stupid. Having a real candid private conversation with someone is all it takes.

Now, how do I know this works? I’ve done it before. The true problem with these conversations is that it doesn’t always change the persons mind or if you did change their mind it doesn’t stop them from posting false news in the future. At this point it’s best to cut your losses when it comes to a private conversation because it didn’t work the first time.

Another thing you can do is post factual information in the comments section of the post. By debunking the information they provided they might start to think more about what they post before they post it. Even if it’s just so they don’t have to see you in their comments again. The Grandmother problem isn’t going anywhere so just remember to be kind and know that by sharing the truth you are impacting the world significantly in a positive way.  Don’t forget there is a time and a place to call people out but there is also a time and a place to all someone in. Calling in should be your first step and then call out if necessary.