How are we supposed to trust the media if there are so many things out their manipulating it? Nowadays, with the increased usage of social media, its hard to truly know if we are reading something that is credible or something that is fake. People can post whatever they want, fact or opinion. For this blog post, I’ve decided to dig in a little deeper into the manipulation of Facebook and Twitter, sites that are used by more than a billion people worldwide.
First and foremost, personal users are main contributors to media manipulation. According to the Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online report, “mainstream social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, (and YouTube) are used by members of the far-right to spread extreme messaging to large numbers of people to seed topics for journalists,” (Marwick and Lewis 26). Facebook is considered a pivotal space for spreading misinformation, which can lead to the spreading of “fake news.” Members of the far-right know how to use mainstream social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter, to “increase visibility for their desired messaging,” (Marwick and Lewis 26). Many users post on Facebook or Twitter to try to grow their audience. If someone posts something regarding a specific political event and you like it, similar posts will begin to pop up on your news feed. By now, I’m sure we’ve all seen this personally or heard about this. This may also have to do with the troublesome algorithms we’ve talked about endlessly this semester (which also contribute to media manipulation).
Aside from personal users, “internet trolls” also play a role in media manipulation. “Trolls have have a history of manipulating the media to call out hypocrisies and hysterias, learning early on how to target public figures and organizations to amplify their efforts through mainstream media,” (Marwick and Lewis 4). Although internet trolls claim to be apolitical, they can still cause harm by partaking in malicious activities, such as ruining someone’s reputation or revealing information they necessarily shouldn’t. Internet trolls are more concerned about “sowing discord and causing reactions” through humor, although some don’t find it to be funny (Marwick and Lewis 4). Have you ever seen two different posts that sound exactly the same but are under different user names? This is because the troll will set up a new account after being blocked by the site on the other so it can keep posting. Actually, there are all kinds of different trolls. Check out this link if you want to learn more about them: https://darkpsychology.co/troll/ .
Overall, social media sites tie into this ecosystem of media manipulation greatly. Yes, the platform itself definitely contributes to the problem by not monitoring media manipulation more closely, but it is also the people who use the sites that create the issue.