This tweet from Sen. Ted Cruz says: “First gas stoves, then your coffee, now they’re gunning for your Xbox.” It got a lot of attention on social media.
What is Cruz talking about here? And who is “gunning for your Xbox?” And what does he mean by gunning?
This is how we fact-checked it.
Who is behind the information?
The first thing you want to do when checking out a claim is ask yourself: Who is behind the information? Cruz’s tweet links directly to an article on a site called The Blaze. Many sites have an “About” page, which can tell you who owns the site, what their mission is and how they’re funded. Reading this page can help you figure out if the source has any biases or political leanings.
Blaze Media describes itself on its About page as “for people who love America,” refers to itself as “alternative media,” and says that its views “tend to fall somewhere on the center-right to right of the modern American political spectrum.”
This is a good start, but you should always go a step further — leave the page and search for more information on a source.
‘About this result’ tool
A keyword search for “what is The Blaze” comes up with a lot of results. But here’s a tip to help you decide whether a source might be reliable, even before clicking on one: Click on the three dots next to the suggested article. This is Google’s “about this result” tool.
A box will pop up that gives some basic background information, including who owns it and how long it’s been around. If you click on “more about this page,” you can find results that tell you even more about the source.
There were a couple of links — All Sides and Adfontes Media — that rate sites for media bias, so I checked those out. One rated it “Right” while the other rated it as “hyper-partisan right with mixed reliability.”
This gives us a good picture, but remember, just because an article comes from a source with partisan-leaning views doesn’t necessarily mean that it isn’t reliable.
So, back to the article in The Blaze. The headline says “Xbox will force gamers to power down to fight climate change, touting the first ‘carbon aware console’.” It also says Microsoft claims that “if two gamers use their proposed power-saving method for a year, it is the equivalent to planting one tree.”
But in his tweet, Cruz uses the phrase “gunning for,” which implies that someone is coming to take your Xbox — and there is nothing in this article that says this.
But let’s do a little more digging. In this case we used a media literacy skill called “reading upstream,” a term coined by the Stanford History Education Group. To do this you go directly to the primary source as opposed to reading other second-hand pieces about the topic.
The Blaze article links directly to a press release from Xbox. The press release is actually what set off the controversy in the first place.
According to Xbox, this update will make the console more energy efficient. Previously, Xbox would do updates at night when the user wasn’t using the device, but now Xbox will do updates when the energy used will be the most renewable.
The press release says some Xbox consoles will also use a shutdown mode when the Xbox isn’t in use, which lengthens the time it takes for a console to boot up. However, this shutdown mode will not affect the performance of consoles while in use.
So, it’s pretty clear what the update does, and there is no indication that anyone is “gunning for” your Xbox.
Needs Context: The claim by Cruz needs context because the phrase “gunning for your Xbox” is misleading. Cruz makes it sound like someone is trying to take your console away, ban it or somehow regulate it. This is not the case. Xbox is simply changing how it updates the software of its devices to make them more energy efficient.
NOTE TO TEACHERS: This article is featured in a free, one-hour lesson plan that teaches students how to evaluate and consider bias in online content. The lesson is available through PBS NewsHour Classroom, and includes a lesson summary and a handout, among other resources.