Charlie Warzel is an opinion writer for The New York Times, an online news site. Last mid-October, he asked two individuals he never met to offer him their Facebook account passwords for as many as three weeks and after Election day. Warzel said that he needed to immerse himself in child boomers’ feeders who have an attachment to polarizing social media.
The opinion writer searched for older Americans who are not full-blown conspiracy theorists, partisan activists, or trolls. He needed people whose information consumption has sharply elevated in the previous few years of Facebook. None of the two people he asked to lend their Facebook accounts to him described themselves as partisans. Both of them described themselves as conservatives who are slowly drifting leftward until Donald Trump took over the Republican Party and gave the last push. In addition, both of the individuals voted for Joe Biden during the election. This was partly because Biden promised to succeed throughout the aisle. Also, both of them hate the toxicity of the present politics.
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Moreover, the Facebook feed contains an infinite scroll of content material that has no context at all. For instance, touching household moments are induced with Bible quotes as if they are Hallmark playing cards. There are also posts about conspirational misinformation and hyperpartisan fearmongering. Needless to say, Mr. Young’s — the person who lent his Facebook account– feed is a nightmare. This is how Warzel described the three weeks that he spent inside the man’s Facebook feed.
True enough, Facebook is quite popular as the number one source of misinformation and conspiracy theories. Yet, what goes on in the most common American information newsfeed is something unimaginable for outsiders to watch.
Tools such as CrowdTangle, a platform that observes engagements that social media posts receive, are the most excellent accessible means to grasp what is standard on the platform. However, the social media giant Facebook, the owner of CrowdTangle, argues that the tool is not a dependable indicator.
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Furthermore, Mr. Young sold his small enterprise last February and moved from Missouri to Phoenix. He planned to ease his method into semiretirement. A week later, the global COVID-19 pandemic forced him to stay indoors. That was when his time on Facebook began to skyrocket.
Mr. Young had so much time spent on Facebook that he revealed a point when he literally had to begin leaving his phone in the other room. But the problem is that he does not have anything to do.
The man joined Facebook in 2008. He aimed to reconnect with his high school classmates in Illinois. He rapidly connected with his previous associates and neighbors, something that is really thrilling for him. However, if he needed a job, it would look ultra-sketchy having that as his profile picture: he should have bought Facebook followers.
During the first years, his Facebook experience was nostalgic and enjoyable. However, Mr. Young began seeing occasional heated disagreement on his feed when 2016 came. After that, his newsfeed actually began to show divisive.
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He first observed that the feedback, which would normally finish in some model of “agree to disagree,” became conspirational remark threads. Political disagreements began showing and spreading like wildfire. In addition, he did not take pleasure in fact-checking his associates. But when a post appeared clearly unfaithful, he knew that he needed to say one thing.
Mr. Young also added that his Facebook experience feels like going by a car wreck. You have to take a look even when you do not want to. He also believes that his newsfeed is an ideal storm for battle. This is because he lived in each conservative and liberal area of the nation, and he lived and labored, as well as befriended, all methods of conservatives and liberals.
In addition, Mr. Young to Warzel that he began referring to his Facebook as his Hatfield and McCoy feed and then laughed it off.
However, the man observed that many of his associates started to publish extra political memes, most of which have no quotation or hyperlink. When he would try to confirm one, he would notice that the publish was either pretend or debunked by an information website. Also, there is no real debate most of the time, just anger and close-mindedness. He also admitted that it sometimes scares him.
Another Facebook Feed to Look At
Scrolling on Facebook using Mr. Young’s feed after Election Day in the US, Warzel noticed that there are quite many of the aforementioned posts. Mr. Young’s Facebook feed is quite different from the Facebook feed that Warzel usually hung out in. Karen Pierce owns that feed. She is a 55-year-old school teacher based in Virginia. Moreover, Ms. Pierce describes herself as a “middle-child peacekeeper who is uncomfortable with politics.”
Ms. Pierce is not politically active on Facebook, unlike Mr. Young. She does not intervene even when she sees issues that she thinks maybe pretend or conspirational.
Besides, the political content that appeared on Ms. Pierce Facebook newsfeed was largely anodyne statements of assists for the Biden-Harris political tandem’s marketing campaign.
Yet, Ms. Pierce expressed a lot of frustration over what she sees on her newsfeed. She said that it was so extreme to watch people go from debating about a particular topic to saying the craziest thing they can to get attention. One example that she mentioned is the entire anti-abortion debate. People started saying that those who will vote for Biden are murderers. Then they began posting graphic photos of fetuses.
Warzel informed Ms. Pierce that he had not seen anything that extreme on her feed. But the woman noted that that was because she instructed that it was because she took a three-month break from the platform.
Needless to say, Facebook feeds baby boomers with toxic information. Besides, it is unimaginable to disregard how people behave on social media platforms like Facebook reflects the core expression of their identities.