A recent article by arstechnica, states 70% of top “civic” Facebook groups are toxic or violent according to a report.
The report discusses the issues of hate speech, violent rhetoric, misinformation and toxic behaviour in relation to the US Capitol. However, this is a global issue.
I live in the Fraser Valley, and we are seeing local fear mongering on Facebook with regards to missing people. Conspiracy theories that they were all related began to explode. Moreover, conspiracy theories that Global News was “Fake News” also have shown up in the comments section. In my view, this indicates that this phenomenon can occur on macro and micro scales. What I have witnessed locally is rather shocking. Facebook conspiracy theories do not stay on Facebook. Many people have posted about “protecting yourself” from abductors. This has translated into real people actually beginning to carry around knives and weapons out of fear of being abducted. The problem of people taking action due to Facebook posts is not only a problem for the US Capitol, but an issue we are all exposed to.
The idea behind free speech, is to beat bad ideas with better ideas. However, Facebook Algorithms does not work this way. It promotes what is trending. What are the solutions? Do we shut down these groups? Are conspiracy theorists being shut down a realistic solution? How do you bring a conspiracy theorist back to a middle ground?