Opinion — No One is Immune to Online Manipulation. It’s Time we Take it Seriously
It would appear as if certain people are more acceptable to misinformation and propaganda. That friend of yours on Facebook claiming COVID-19 came from 5G towers because they saw a YouTube video that “broke it down.” The Twitter rants against Bill Gates claiming he created the COVID-19 virus and is holding the vaccine from the public for some reason. None of these claims are based in factual research, yet conspiracy theories are often louder than the truth.
We often think that depends on what political leanings we have, our level of education and the beliefs we hold. Democrats and liberals tend to think it is those who favor President Donald Trump who are uneducated and poor, while Republicans and Trump supporters believe they hold the truth in their convictions against liberals.
Earlier this year I watched the Democratic primaries unfold on Twitter and Facebook in a disturbing way that brought me back to 2016. As much as Democrats, progressives, liberals and leftists tend to believe they are far more educated and immune to misinformation campaigns, most of them can not see when right-wing propaganda starts to bleed into their political commentary. When they do see it, it is often too late.
According to pewresearch.org, 72% of adults have used at least one social media site as of Feb. 7, 2019. That is a 67% increase since March 21, 2005. Currently, about 22% of American’s are using Twitter, while 69% are using Facebook. The current trends are showing the impact that social media has in politics to spread information. How can we prevent the abuse that is used to influence public opinion?
First, let me explain what I watched unfold in the primaries that showed online manipulation in action. I was supporting Elizabeth Warren, but would have favored Bernie Sanders policies as a second choice. Anyone other than Trump seemed like a more competent choice, a lot of candidates were bringing good ideas to discuss. Yet, anytime I tried to make a comment or post about Elizabeth Warren I would get insulted by Twitter trolls. They would comment so fast it was impossible for them to be real people. A post with an article would pop up and 30 seconds later there would be six comments claiming she is racist for claiming to be…