Last year, Ofcom found that 49% of the UK population used social media to access news reporting; the Pew Research Center reported a similar figure, 55%, in the US.
Much of the news people see and share on social media is highly partisan, and it’s often highly inaccurate too. Right-wing bullshit factories have come to dominate the online news sphere.
A new study by Media Matters shows how that affects people’s knowledge and understanding of trans people.
Anti-transgender Facebook content shared by right-wing news sources generated more engagement than content from pro-transgender or neutral sources combined…
“Facebook users are getting a totally biased and factually inaccurate understanding of the multitude of issues that impact trans people”.
Of the top ten sources of trans-related news, seven were avowedly anti-trans; of the 66 million shares, 43 million were of content from anti-trans websites such as the Daily Caller.
This is an American study but the phenomenon is global:Â the vast majority of trans-related articles and opinion pieces I see shared by British people on social media, particularly Facebook, are from right-wing publications based either in the US or the UK.
we know from a 2019 Pew Research poll that Facebook has a nearly even splitâ€”35% and 34% respectivelyâ€”between users that consider themselves some sort of liberal or some sort of conservative. But we know from other research that those with a conservative bent are more far likely to share (and fall for) news articles that reinforce their preexisting point-of-view, even if theyâ€™re sensationalistic or downright debunkable.Â
…because a good half of Americans get at least some of their news on Facebook, that means that the bulk of people are reading stories about the transgender community that, again, paints them as icky leches on society, instead of just normal people living their normal lives.