What to be wary of on social media channels
The short form is:
Be aware and think critically
Social media platforms are not neutral spaces. Wise digital citizenship requires awareness of underlying motives, hidden agendas, and inherent biases.
Mainstream channels, such as Facebook and Twitter, seek to flag or remove posts deemed to be harmful disinformation and are, therefore, less likely to be breeding grounds for antisemitism or other racist conspiracies, though users should realize that conspiracies certainly can circulate on these channels. Because of their regulatory policies, Big Tech companies have been accused of de-platforming right-wing voices. Additionally, organizations such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter use algorithms to drive up their profit by selling users’ data. These algorithms draw users to certain interest groups, sometimes with the unintended consequences of radicalization. For example, previous browsing history can generate paths to sites pushing Holocaust denial.
Alternate platforms have sought to offer a “free speech” alternative and, in some cases, greater privacy of user data or less intrusive algorithms. These platforms offer a space and sounding board for individuals with legitimate partisan leanings. However, because of their unregulated nature, these platforms often devolve into hubs for neo-Nazi, antisemitic, or other conspiratorial groups, and even well-meaning individuals could be lured by violent or conspiratorial theories. The Pittsburgh, Poway, and Christchurch shooters were active on the alternative platforms Gab and 8chan. Even without algorithm-influenced content, these platforms can become dangerous echo chambers.
You can protect yourself and help Stop the Transmission by being aware of algorithms, moving beyond echo chambers, and avoiding antisemitic cesspools.