The question Is the crime rate for undocumented immigrants “considerably lower” than that of Trump campaign staffers? has received a close vote with a comment saying that likes on Facebook do not necessarily establish that a claim is notable.

I think it would be good to have a reference post here if, or when, "likes" and "shares" can establish notability (and when they can not).

Personally, I think likes/shares can show notability (though I'm unsure about the threshold; it should probably be in the thousands), but it depends on the post/meme. If it is to be expected that the majority of readers take the meme as a joke, but would not actually believe it, that wouldn't seem like a notable claim (that assessment is of course subjective).

For reference, previous examples of Likes/Shares used to establish notability:

Examples of memes without like/share count:

So my question is: Can a certain numbers of "likes" or "shares" establish a notable claim? Can memes be notable, and if so, when?

Related: What is a 'notable' claim?

  • 1
    I upvoted because it shows effort , many links and big text. Commented Sep 1, 2018 at 21:19

3 Answers 3


There are several concepts that seem to be confused here.

A large number of social media likes/shares are neither necessary nor sufficient to show a question is on-topic here.

However, they can be used to show one aspect of being on-topic - that many people have been exposed to the claim.

We want a reference to a claim for several reasons, which include:

1) We want to be confident that people believe the claim. Otherwise, we are wasting our time spending effort debunking speculations that a couple of people came up with in a bar. There are more of those generated every day than we could possibly keep up with.

  • One way to do that is to show many different people making the claim.
  • Another way to do that it to show many people have read the claim (which shares and likes do quite well).
  • Another way to do that is to show someone well-known made the claim.

None of these prove many people believe the claim - in fact, the latter two are just shortcuts - but they are generally enough to persuade us it is worth the time (measured in hours) it takes to write/edit/review a good answer.

2) We want to be sure it is a real claim - not a piece of fiction, not a joke, not a misunderstanding by the person writing the question.

In this case, the claim appears to be a joke. It doesn't look like the person making the claim actually expects people to believe they have done the research to show whether it is true. Even if many people have shared at a joke or watched a movie doesn't mean the contents are a real claim.

3) We want to be able to look at the surrounding context - did they define their terms? Can we glean from their occupation, region and other context information about what they might have meant by the claim, so we aren't accidentally attacking strawmen arguments.


Likes and shares would be a good measure of notability if we had any reason to think sharing something meant believing something.

The problem with many of these Facebook claims/memes is that most of them are just jokes/insults/political jabs, and people share them with friends because they think it's funny, not because they think it's a true claim.

If the post contains numbers/references/any evidence at all, then the case could definitely be made that it's intended to be a legitimate claim and not a joke. At that point, shares and likes would be a good way of proving notability(though it'd be hard to come up with a notability threshold).

To use the one that started this post as an example, go ahead and read it again in the voice of any late-night talk show host and add a sting at the end of it. Just from tone alone it's clear that it's not supposed to be a claim, it's just a joke.

Even if the notability wasn't in doubt, these sorts of questions are almost always unclear because they are one or two sentences with no references. Again using the original example: is it comparing it to all campaign staffers throughout the campaign, including dozens of one-time volunteers at every event, or only paid roles throughout the campaign? What about advisors and contractors? For this, and basically every other question like it, we'll never get a clear claim because we there's barely any info in the original claim, and we won't ever be able to track down the original claimant.


I think we have passed the stage where (Facebook) clicks/shares alone are a sign of notability. We know that on the major social media platforms saying something brash gets you clicks and shares. That's the reason why clickbait titles work (1, 2, 3, etc.). That is not going to change in the near future.

From the meta question What is a 'notable' claim?:

A claim is 'notable' when a significant number of people believe it is true

Can we still say that sharing something is 'believing that it is true'? Less and less. There are many more reason why people might like to share, a major one being "Look at this weird/silly/strange thing!" (which you could interpret as the "I once heard" or "my friend told me" arguments mentioned there as 'not notable').

If the post does not contain other links supporting its notability, I'd say: Close.

It is time to inquire again into that 2013 definition.


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