NowThis Opinions
S1 E33

How the Far-Right Is Dividing Americans With Social Media

Melissa Ryan, editor of Ctrl Alt-Right Delete thinks the internet is broken.

“If social media seems less fun, and less useful, that’s by design,” she explained. “The social networks Americans use every day, they’ve been weaponized against us, pitting us against one another by exploiting our cultural and political weaknesses.”

So, who exactly is causing this social media strife? Ryan says that it’s not one individual person or group, but a coalition of like-minded entities, including online communities, foreign actors, the right-wing media, and Trump himself.

“Trump and his online army of supports feed off of America’s unresolved issues with race to divide Americans, and Russian trolls have aided that effort by running their own online influence operations targeting American voters,” she stated.

How do they do this? Apparently, there are four major factions of online weaponization:

The first is false amplification, which attempts to make a view or movement seem larger than it is with bots. The second is spreading disinformation, or knowingly spreading or amplifying false information. The third is online harassment, which includes bullying or doxing others into silence. The fourth is fanning the flames, by “trolling” to incite rage.

In order to decrease this toxic online system, Ryan believes that social media and tech companies should step up and help improve their communities so they are less toxic — and none of that can happen until they take responsibility for what’s going wrong.

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