NBC News recently showed its own biases in a pathetic attempt to slam social media companies for radicalizing Americans.
“We looked at why politics on social media has divided the nation, family by family,” NBC News television correspondent Jacob Ward tweeted May 9 alongside a link to a report. Ward also quoted a woman in his tweet who seemingly accused her mother of being radicalized: “‘I don’t think she’s my enemy, but I think she’s being used as a weapon,’ Jarusha told us of her mother, who she says is lost to conspiracy theories online.” Ward observed in the report: “[R]esearchers say this happens every day, so we performed an unscientific test.” In a comical irony, the documentary presented conventional political sources as radical and then consulted a radical, left-wing academic, as an expert.
Ward and his colleague both reportedly created accounts to experiment on Facebook and YouTube to find how algorithms polarize Americans with extreme content. The experiment was carried out by “clicking on whatever their algorithms suggest.” Ward created an account following right-wing content and his “colleague” Melanie followed left-wing content.
Ward claimed his feed became “more and more extreme.” One example of extreme conservative content was conservative commentator Dan Bongino criticizing basketball player LeBron James. An example of “nonstop anger” was commentator Candace Owens featured in a “Leftists Are Becoming the Racists” video for PragerU. Ward’s one example of radicalizing “conspiracy theories” was a Facebook group called “Bigfoot Believers.”
Even the study’s idea of left-wing radical content was unremarkable. Melanie came across “a lot from Occupy Democrats. That’s kind of the dominating force on my page right now.” Occupy Democrats, while being associated with the Occupy movement in name, shares content such as praising the Biden administration for legislating in favor of “LGBTQ rights.” The other example shown was YouTuber Shoe0nHead. Shoe0nHead, while left leaning, tends to be a free thinker who makes content such as criticizing woke pandering among the CIA.
The absurdity of the video reached a crescendo when NBC consulted Director of the Technology and Social Change Research Project at Harvard Kennedy’s Shorenstein Center Joan Donovan about online radicalization. In the video, she was quoted, explaining: “Over time that can actually give you the impression that some things that are more obscure or extreme are very much in the normal sphere of conversation”
Donovan has a history of trying to normalize extreme groups. In a 2020 piece headlined, “How an overload of riot porn is driving conflict in the streets,” she slammed “right-wing adversarial media-makers like Elijah Schaffer and Andy Ngo” for attempting to expose rioters. She also condemned conservatives for using social media as a “machine to spread a narrative of lawless rioting.”
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