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Auctioneers are typically well-known in their communities, and some are even known regionally or nationally. As such, it’s best we are careful what we say, proclaim, publish, share, and the like. It seems to me some of us are not sufficiently concerned about this.

Many recent studies are showing that we as users of Facebook spend more time consuming purposely fake (disinformation) than we spend looking at factual data. Additionally, Facebook consistently appears to be the major referrer to fake news websites.

We have written about information versus affirmation (including here: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2019/09/05/auctioneers-information-versus-affirmation/) and this issue likely explains why we click on and share untrustworthy links and websites — because they affirm (confirm) our prior thinking. In other words, it must be true because we want it to be or believe it to be.

Disinformation (intentional misinformation meant to deceive) is not a concept brought on by social media — it is only amplified a millionfold in the online environment. For auctioneers, it seems most disinformation shared is fairly harmless, but when it concerns, for example, health or legal matters it becomes dangerous.

Years ago we used to use Google to sometimes research potential clients; today we and most everyone else uses Facebook. What does that attorney, banker, executor, or other potential client see when they look you up online? A recent job we secured was a result of our client comparing/contrasting us and other auctioneers’ online (Facebook) presence.

An attorney who hired us to do expert witness work commented when I arrived at his office: “Thanks for flying all the way here. Of course, we expect honesty and were glad to see no fake stories on your Facebook profile.” You see, it isn’t necessary only what you write, nor your own comments, but what you share without thinking, “Is this real news? Is this a real story? Is it accurate?”

I might add that if a story has a source (known or anonymous,) that just because your source says it’s not true doesn’t make the original story false. How is your source more informed than the story’s source? Does your source have motivation to counter? Does the original story’s author have reason to lie? These are both good questions to ponder.

Many auctioneers have told me that certain newspapers are always wrong. Always wrong? And your favorite newspaper is always right? Really? It couldn’t be that your favorite newspaper just merely confirms your prior belief and that so-called fake-news newspaper counters your prior belief?

For that matter, many auctioneers have told me the FBI, CIA, the United States Department of Justice Department, and countless other federal government departments and agencies are all unreliable and spew fake news. So your source knows more and is more reliable than the Federal government? Your Federal government?

Lastly, there is this issue of anyone changing their minds. Apparently, nobody is allowed to do that either? For instance, we’re told to not wear masks during a pandemic and then are told to wear one. Do auctioneers ever change their minds? You’ve never changed your mind about anything? Certainly, if you have, you can’t ever be trusted again?

The auctioneer community could benefit from verifying facts, checking sources, consuming news from a variety of platforms, and endeavoring to find information rather than just affirmation. Further, maybe a good rule would be that “If it’s too good to be true it might not be?” More importantly, some websites note they only produce comedy and satire — which is an indication your shared story is not true.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, CAS, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, RES Auction Services, and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, and an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.