Looking for a new home for my pictures, scribbles and stories. Can sometimes be found loitering on Twitter:

It is becoming increasingly commonplace to see Social Media Services stepping in as the purveyor of truth.

As of June 2020 Facebook had 2.70 Billion monthly users. Which is mind staggering. To help put that into context there are 2.4 Billion Christians in the world today.

With the power to propagate what is fact and what is false to billions around the world especially in regards to the Coronavirus, the question that is raised is who, if in fact anyone, checks to see if the Social Media Services are actually right or wrong?

During this pandemic we are now seeing on more than one occasion, Social Media Services taking down tweets from the President of the United States. Now without getting into whether you like the guy or not, let’s just take a step back and look at the big picture.

Social Media Services, the ones who already take all your personal information so that it can be sold to the highest bidding advertiser. The same guys who continually run AB interface testing on us to determine our personal sweet spots of addictive endorphin releasing interaction so that they can keep you jacked in for longer to learn even more about your likes and habits.

Swipe… Swipe… Scroll… Swipe… Hey how did it get so late?

As if not enough to alter our behaviours, these guys are now moving into the territory of determining what you understand to be factual or not. Now you could argue that being the provider of content they are doing this already, but to openly takedown a message from the leader of the most powerful country in the world is a huge stance that needs to be questioned.

Social media took down Trump’s posts as they deemed it to propagate harmful COVID misinformation. In one example, Trump had said that children are “almost immune” to COVID. Now the understanding of COVID at the time as it still is today is that this is not true. Healthy children are also vulnerable to COVID but they seem to have less severe responses when they get it and they don’t seem to be the super spreaders they originally were feared to be.

But to take the post down is a black and white stance on an issue that we still don’t know much about. The scientific facts of Coronavirus are still not in and I don’t believe anyone at this time knows 100% what is going on.

The argument is that Social Media needed to take the post down as following this, people reading the tweet as gospel would send their kids out into the world thinking they are immune and ultimately make things worse for everyone.

I understand this, but for Social Media to step in and dictate a narrative, they are projecting that they know what is factual and what is not. If they are going to play the role as Fact Checker in this world then they better have their Facts straight.

The question is where are they getting their facts from and can we trust them?

I recently experienced a Social Media fact check that left me pondering the same question and led me to write this article. Now let me get into my experience before you think that I have been seeding false conspiracy theories about the Coronavirus.

The Offending Post

Now you may have seen this infographic before. I shared this post to my Instagram story on April 22nd, one month into the lockdown here in Austria when the world was still getting to terms with masks, specifically whether you should you wear one or not. Everyone was looking to Singapore who dealt with the initial outbreak particularly well and they in turn were questioning why the west were not adopting masks when they had evidence that it helped curb the number of cases.

I summarise this graphic thusly:

*If you wear a mask and someone in close proximity to you has Covid there is a high chance you will get it, even if you are wearing a mask.*

*If you are not wearing a mask and someone in close proximity to you has Covid, but they are wearing a mask, there is a lesser chance that you will get it, than if they were not wearing a mask.*

*If you are wearing a mask and someone in close proximity to you has Covid but is also wearing a mask, then there is even less chance that you will get it.*

To cut a long story short I summarise this as, if you wear a mask when in close proximity to other people and you have Coronavirus but don’t know about it, their chances of getting it is reduced.

Five Months later

Five months later I noticed in my Instagram activity feed a little caution icon:

“Independent fact-checkers say information in your post is false. We’ve added a notice to your photo”

Now this is five months later so I had no idea what it was referring to. I looked into it and realised they were talking about the story I shared months ago.

It was shared as an Instagram story which meant after 24 hours it was no longer accessible to anyone but me. So if I had unintentionally shared something false disguised as fact, it would have only been seen in a 24 hour period, meaning no perpetual misinformation.

Good. I explored what it was that Instagram flagged.

I tapped on the available option:

Full fact-check

See conclusion from Newsmobile Fact Checker

I was taken to Instagram’s official independent fact checker, and was immediately taken aback by the amount of advertising that was thrown my way.

The first advert banner was directed at old people and care homes: How old do they think I am?

The second was inviting me to find out all I need to know about the Coronavirus by checking out more on their website: If you are going to drown me in adverts, no thank you.

The third was about buying gold: I hear Robert Kiyosaki, of Rich Dad Poor Dad in my head screaming at me “the economy is about to collapse BUY GOLD!”

The look and feel of Instagram’s official independent fact checker was that of an early 2000’s porn site where Penis enlargement adverts wouldn’t look out of place. I barely have space to read the content I came for. Regardless I trudged on as though trying to read a newspaper through a letter box.

Does wearing masks reduce COVID-19 transmission probability to 1.5%? Here’s the truth.

Fact Check

We fact-checked the above information and found it to be unsubstantiated and false.

Now before embarking on this “fact checking rabbit hole” Instagram manages to cover themselves by labelling this as “independent fact-checking.” Which works in two ways:

*Independent as in un-biased “We are not pushing a narrative”*

But also

Independent as in “Hey Penis-enlarging website said it was wrong, not us”

After being slapped with the you were wrong glove of infallibility, I rummaged through their arguments to see why I deserved it.

In the infographic, they look into the source (or lack of source) of the information and find it unsubstantiated because there is nothing that backs up the transmission percentages that were depicted in the post.

Okay I get it, the post I shared used percentages which had no scientific backing. Nobody has submitted scientific research that states if we all wear masks then your likelihood of getting Coronavirus is 1.5%.

But does that mean that the overall sentiment of this infographic is also wrong? The percentages are not factually backed, so does that mean I shouldn’t wear a mask at all, after all Instagram said so (or their independent fact-checkers did)

As if to subdue my confusion and answer my questions the fact checkers provided me with a screenshot from the WHO Website which stated.

The World Health Organisation … found that a healthy person is only advised to wear a mask if they are taking care of a COVID-19 affected patient

What? Had I just slipped through a time hole? When I read this in September, it was still mandatory here in Austria to wear masks on public transport. But Instagram was saying that I didn’t need to unless I was specifically looking after someone who had the coronavirus. I scrolled back to the top of the page and through the advertisement peephole I looked for the author of the post and when it was submitted.

News Mobile Fact Check Bureau

May 4, 2020

Now “News Mobile Fact Check Bureau” sounds like the credibility ensuring titles that the Microsoft Phone Scammers use.

“Excuse me sir, we are calling you today because we realised in April 2020 you posted a picture with factually incorrect percentages, now if you will just give us your sort code and account number our News Mobile Fact Check Bureau will ensure the safety and wellbeing of those who have seen your post”

The Fact was checked on the 4th of May and was being presented to me as truth in mid September. I looked on the WHO website to check the reference that they themselves used (which you can also do so here.)

It hadn’t been updated since the 5th of August 2020 but was still 3 months more recent that the source “News Mobile Fact Check Bureau” fact checked me with in September.

The WHO’s stance as of today states “Non-medial, fabric masks,” the types that most of us are using, have limited evidence of their effectiveness, and they recommend that it is not used as a be-all-and-end-all solution to control Covid-19. But, if you find yourself in an environment where it is not possible to give at least 1 meter social distance, like on public transport and shops, then they encourage the general public to use masks.


The fact check was right but it was also wrong, which seems to be the ongoing theme with information regarding the Coronavirus. Facts are only correct based on what is known at the time.

Had the post been fact-checked when it was posted in April or in early May when the fact-check article was originally created then it would have been right, based on what we knew at the time.

“What you posted isn’t entirely true, don’t think you are safe just because you are wearing a mask, the Who website currently states that you only need to wear a mask if you are treating a patient with the coronavirus because there is limited evidence that they actually work.”

But this fact-check came to me in September, when the number of cases were rising again as we looked to enter a second wave. If I hadn’t checked the date of the fact-check or the date of the source they referenced, and I blindly took it as truth I would be walking around with no mask, telling all my friends that the WHO said you only need to wear a mask if you are looking after someone with COVID.

Now it may sound stupid to think that I would just take on faith information that has been given to me by Social Media without double checking it. But in reality how many of us spend time checking into these things? Especially when we are conditioned through interactions with our phones to skip important information.

Did you read the terms and conditions?

YES – Check

*So we will now take the naughty Whatsapp pictures that you sent to your girlfriend and use them for one of our client’s X-Rated dating apps?*

What? I didn’t agree to that

*I think you did, when you said you read the terms and conditions.*

Clearly Instagram is using an algorithm to pick up on posts that have been classified as false. Perhaps they are using reverse image search technology which detects when an image has been used and flags it. This links the user to a company who hosts the fact-check and tries to make a little money by giving you unsolicited advertisements. (Perhaps they should also be using Instagram’s personalised adverts)

This fact-checking process could have been useful if it was instantaneous and not delivered 5 months late when the facts had already changed.

However leaving fact-checking to computers raises the issue of the lack of sentiment when checking. For instance the post that I used, yes the percentages were not factual, but the overall sentiment said, wear a mask it will help protect those around you if you unknowingly have it,

This was true then as it is true now.

Now I know it isn’t feasible for billions of posts to be fact-checked instantly by humans, but had it been I would have liked to think it would have went something like this.

Hey the infographic that you shared 5 months ago said that if you wear a mask there is a 1.5% chance that you could be infected with the Coronaviurs. There is no scientific basis for this so don’t go out there thinking that you are invincible because you can still catch COVID even if you are wearing a mask. But if you find yourself in an enclosed space and you are unable to keep 1 meter distance from others then you should wear one, as recommended by the WHO as of the 5th of August.

Now I am not the President of the United states so I am sure that someone more credible that the “News Mobile Fact Check Bureau” fact checked his post before Facebook decided to take it down. But the same logic applies.

We don’t know 100% what is going on with the Coronavirus. What is fact today can be found to be false a few months later. To take the post down even if at the time it is considered to be wrong, is saying that it is unequivocally wrong, which you can not say from what we know right now about the Coronavirus.

I believe it would have been more beneficial to leave it up and create a discussion point, which can be continually evaluated and if needs be rejected again at a later date.

Social media dictating what is right and wrong, and only showing what they deem to be right to their billions of users is a type of censorship that has been proved a disservice to society through history. Not only that but letting algorithms do that job for you without full visibility is a little worrying.

With over 9487 words spread across 36 Chapters, Version 2.0 of the short fiction: Last Carriage – A HyperScript Narrative has finally found its home on the Coil platform.

For those of you who have been following along with the uploading of this series, and have just spotted the Version 2.0, you are probably wondering how long I plan to drag this series along.

Fear not, there will be no prequels, sequels or alternative universes.

Last Carriage Version 1.0 was created as the final project for my Digital Media Arts degree.

The concept was simple:


I like to think that this statement was actually included in the proposal, however, likely not.

Here I stand before you 13 years later, and I must humbly admit that I have failed. Last Carriage failed to stop the rise of Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Vine, Instagram, Twitch, TikTok and now stands utterly defeated before the new kid on the block: Cinnamon Video ( which let’s face it is simply great. )

Last Carriage was an attempt to bring stories back to these teens with content that they could relate to. Inspired by the old “Choose Your Own Adventure Gamebooks” I hoped that an interactive narrative could help character and storyline discovery by being “physically engaging” albeit through the click of a button. With a colour based linking system the reader could jump in and out of 3 narratives, time travelling to the past or future of these character storylines, ultimately finding the same ending but with different perspectives.

Unfortunately some of the unique features that Version 1.0 brought to the table couldn’t be attained using Coil. In Coil, hyperlinks are blue by default and so a link to one character is indistinguishable from a link to another. Version 1.0 also had interactive roadblocks which forced the user to go back through the story to find clues and answers in order to progress, creating a truly immersive or GTFO experience.

Spoiler Alert: This walkthrough gives away the plot of the story so if you haven't yet read the story, please do so before watching

With the metaphorical cutting of this ribbon, please enjoy the story at the link below:

Last Carriage – A HyperScript Narrative


Barely discernible from the loud buzzing noise was the female voice over the train’s tannoy

“The Next Station is Kilburn Park”

The announcement barely concluded when a loud thud jolted the train forcefully, throwing everything within violently forward. The deafening grinding noise of metal on concrete camouflaged the terrifying screams reverberating within. When the metallic screeching finally came to a stop and the dust settled there was nothing but silence in that dark tunnel.

The last flickering of the lights within the carriage before the power source finally gave out revealed the body of Alexis Cole, a red rucksack beside him, tattered and torn and covered in cement dust. Barely visible through a tear in the fabric, was a three number combination lock for a silver metallic briefcase.

The news headlines trickled across the media throughout the early hours.

A Southbound Bakerloo line train derailed on it’s way to Kilburn Park Station

Rescue teams were reported searching the wreck of the last carriage with flash lights into the early hours of the morning.

Reports state that the train slipped off the tracks causing the last carriage to collide with a wall at high speed.

An investigation is underway to determine the cause of this horrific incident

There are three confirmed fatalities

Luke Ashley

Jarret Sinclair

Alexis Cole

⇦ Back to Character Selection

If you got this far and would like to learn more about the background of this story please the link below

⇨ Learn More

A loud buzzing sound reverberated through the last carriage, making Alexis jump. The lights throughout the whole train began to flicker uncontrollably making him feel dizzy.

Alexis looked around at the other two passengers who looked just as baffled as he was. It was an eerie feeling as the train continued to move towards its destination despite the stuttering train lights.

Alexis wondered why the train driver had not made an announcement? Perhaps he didn’t know?

⇨ Continue to Epilogue

⇦ Back

⇩ Take the opportunity to explore another character before reading the final chapter

Luke Ashley

He is wearing a pair of dark blue jeans with white trainers and a smart black duffle jacket. He sits motionless on the train staring at his reflection in the window in front of him. He looked as though he was contemplating something; as if he had the weight of the world on his shoulders

⇨ Next

Jarrett Sinclair

He is an athletically built man wearing a grey tracksuit with red trainers. He is sitting forward on the edge of his seat studying his reflection, every now and then gently touching his cheeks with his fingertips. His face looks swollen and painful to the touch. He continually cracks his knuckles.

⇨ Next

Alexis looked out as the rain hit the moving train. He chose two droplets and raced them to the bottom of the window. The smaller one engulfed three or four different raindrops before speeding to the finish line and winning.

That’s exactly how he felt, like a rain drop, engulfed in this situation.

Before he had time to think about what he was doing he was racing down an unstoppable path.

The train would soon go into the tunnel and they would shortly be arriving at Kilburn Park Station. He tried to visualise the person who was going to meet him: Red jacket and white cap. Alexis shook his head and looked at the floor. What was he doing? His mum would have realised he was not in his room by now, and would be asking questions.

He turned his attention to the bag sitting on the chair beside him, and slowly poked it to try and determine its contents. Whatever it was it was hard and flat, like a metal box. He tapped it slightly to reveal whether it was hollow or not. He couldn’t tell discern anything over the noise of the train and the rain spraying against the window. It was really pouring down now.

He could see the tunnel approaching ahead. He took out the phone and looked at the clock, he had ten minutes to get there, more than enough time. As he looked at the screen, Dane’s name suddenly appeared and the mobile vibrated madly.

Alexis answered it.


Dane was incoherent his voice trembling, he was panicking unable to string a sentence together. “What’s the matter…where are you?” a concerned Alexis spoke into the phone. On the other end of the line Dane was trying to take a breath and finally stuttered


The phone suddenly cut off as the last carriage entered the dark tunnel.

⇨ Next

⇦ Back

As he made his way through all the carriages he realised there was no one on the train.

It wasn’t that late, was it?

Halfway through the door of the last carriage he saw a man in a black coat sitting down. He hesitated slightly as he would have preferred a carriage to himself, however he didn’t want to turn back around especially now the man was looking at him.

He closed the door behind and walked through the carriage. He passed the man sitting down as he made his way to the very back. Before he could get there a man in a grey tracksuit jumped onto the train through the end doors. The man took a quick glance at him then casually sat down where Alexis was planning to sit.

Alexis took a seat near to where he was standing and placed the rucksack beside him before stretching his legs across the seat. He looked around the carriage at the two passengers to see what they were doing.

Were they looking at him? Were they looking at the bag? He moved the rucksack closer to his body so he could feel that it was there.

The train doors closed and the train slowly began to pull away from the shelter of the platform and into the rain...

⇨ Next

⇦ Back

He looked down at the floor as he approached the two officers. For a moment he was surprised how well a cheap pair of trainers kept the water out.

He saw two pairs of Dr Martins in front of him, motionless. Alexis kept moving, trudging slowly towards them. He could hear their radios getting louder and louder.

Alexis anticipated a hand reaching out and grabbing him as he walked past, but nothing happened. The sounds of the radios soon dissipated as he walked further away.

He dared not tempt fate and look back. He just followed his feet until they reached the bright white floor of Queens Park Station.

He saw the train on the platform and dashed to get on before the doors closed, however the train remained stationary and didn’t look as though it was going anywhere soon.

Why is it when you run for your life to get on a train it remains on the platform making you look stupid?

Fortunately for Alexis nobody was there. He decided to walk to the end of the train going through the carriages, doors noisily closing behind him. Kilburn Park Station was only one stop away but he would rather get off the train at the back, that way nobody would be walking behind him.

⇨ Next

⇦ Back

A few blocks away he stopped to catch his breath, resting against a wall. He could see the water vapour from his mouth disappearing into the cold night air. He had to be more inconspicuous.

He put his hood up which stopped the rain landing on his head and running down his neck, but acted like blinkers to his peripheral vision.

As soon as he stepped out into the road a car screeched to a halt narrowly missing him. Alexis was blinded by the car’s headlights and forced to close his eyes. He could feel his pulse throbbing in his neck.

Was it the car he just ran from?

As he tried to distinguish the car in front of him through the bright white light he heard a voice come from within.

“Hey kid get out of the road.”

Alexis slowly walked onto the pavement, his eyes struggling to adjust to the darkness. He could hear the car move away. As the last remaining white dots plaguing his vision faded away he observed a police car heading down the street.

The police car stopped further up the road and parked alongside the pavement. The occupants remained in the car. The street was the direct way to Queens Park Station, and he didn’t have the time to walk all the way around the back roads.

Alexis heard in the back of his mind the voice from the phone call again. “Watch out for police.”

Alexis continued down the street ever cautious of the police car he was approaching, parked on the other side of the road. There was still no movement from inside, were they waiting for him?

As if to answer his question two police officers exited the car and crossed over to his side of the pavement.

⇨ Next

⇦ Back

Alexis felt like a meerkat constantly aware of his surroundings. Everything but the rain falling around him was a threat. A car slowly came around the corner and slowed down. Alexis could see out of the corner of his eye that the driver was looking at him, perhaps trying to identify him.

Alexis continued to walk ignoring the car. The driver tooted his horn. The sudden loud noise made Alexis jump out of his skin, leaving him standing still. The man called out to him asking for help. Alexis turned and looked at him

“What’s the problem?”

The driver stated that he couldn’t hear him properly and asked if he could come closer.

You’re more likely to get wetter by running to avoid the rain then if you walk. Alexis discovered this first hand as he darted around the corner and up the street, sprinting away from the car. He was taking no chances. His trainers squeaked every step as he struggled to get grip on the wet pavement.

⇨ Next

⇦ Back

The bag sat on Alexis’ bed making a slight indent on the sheets underneath it. Alexis continued to try and call Dane but to no avail. His phone was still off. His mum shouted from the bottom of the stairs that the pizza had arrived and told him to come down.

He shouted back that he wasn’t hungry whilst placing a hand on his stomach which was growling aggressively.

He had to make a move if he was to get there on time. But what was up with Dane? Alexis decided to text him, just in case.

“Getting on the train at queens park bringing the bag with me”

As the little envelope on the screen disappeared, the reality of what he was about to do began to set in. He remembered the voice from the phone call “Watch out for the police?”

Just what was in the bag? Alexis recalled trying to figure out what it was the day he carried it home, he felt the corner of something hard poking into his back, and from the weight of things it must have been metal.

His head poked around the door trying to find the whereabouts of his mother. He could hear the TV from the kitchen, they were watching a comedy. His mum and little brothers suddenly burst out into laughter, concealing the noise Alexis made as he crept out of the front door and into the darkness of the rain drenched street.

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