More panic about blind spots

A lot of people are getting that sinking feeling, apparently.  Here's another NYT piece from someone who just noticed that you can find out a lot about what those "silent majority" voters think if you look at their unfashionable Facebook pages instead of spending all your time on Twitter.   (I won't link to the NYT, but you can find this article by searching for "What If Facebook Is the Real Silent Majority?" 

Listen, liberals. If you don’t think Donald Trump can get re-elected in November, you need to spend more time on Facebook.
They're just now learning that it can be frustrating to deal with a media machine hostile to one's own narrative:
Pro-Trump political influencers have spent years building a well-oiled media machine that swarms around every major news story, creating a torrent of viral commentary that reliably drowns out both the mainstream media and the liberal opposition.
The result is a kind of parallel media universe that left-of-center Facebook users may never encounter, but that has been stunningly effective in shaping its own version of reality. Inside the right-wing Facebook bubble, President Trump’s response to Covid-19 has been strong and effective, Joe Biden is barely capable of forming sentences, and Black Lives Matter is a dangerous group of violent looters.

Um, well, yeah. 

Maybe Mr. Trump’s “silent majority,” in other words, only seems silent because we’re not looking at their Facebook feeds.
“We live in two different countries right now,” said Eric Wilson, a Republican digital strategist and digital director of Marco Rubio’s 2016 campaign. Facebook’s media ecosystem, he said, is “a huge blind spot for people who are up to speed on what’s on the front page of The New York Times and what’s leading the hour on CNN.”
The closing argument is that right-wingers have an unfair advantage in emotional engagement, and Facebook doesn't help censor them enough.

Chaser from the Atlantic:
After the 2016 election, the Times admitted that it had somehow missed the story, and it earnestly set about at self-correction. Like many other outlets, the paper sent reporters to talk to Americans who had put Trump in the White House. It was a new beat, almost a foreign bureau—heartland reporting—but that focus soon faded as the president’s daily depredations consumed the media’s attention. This election year, news organizations grown more activist might miss the story again, this time on principle—as they avoid stories that don’t support their preferred narrative. Trump supporters are hoping for it. . . . Nothing will harm a campaign like the wishful thinking, fearful hesitation, or sheer complacency that fails to address what voters can plainly see.
As Glenn Reynolds warns nearly every day, though, don't get cocky.


David Foster said...

What I am seeing on Facebook (I tend to avoid Twitter) is different...I see "progressives" posting, and "conservatives" posting, in a ratio of probably about 70/30. A lot of genuinely stupid memes on both sides. Lots of heat but little light in the comment threads.

A FB friend, a guy I've known for years, has been posting for the last 6 months or so, asking people to be less-angry and more-considered in what they write. He posted today that he has deleted all those posts, that it's hopeless and from now on he'll stick to posting nature photographs and such.

Gringo said...

I don't do Facebook. A flyover cousin of the Republican persuasion has on occasion posted on Facebook rebuffs to Democrat cousins and others. The response from the Democrats is that she is uninformed to misinformed. That is, as she doesn't restrict her news to lefty Facebook feeds, she is uninformed to misinformed.

David Foster said...

I get the impression that there are a lot of very dedicated social-media users who have no concept that there are *other* sources of information on the's all about the Walled Garden (and they don't know about the snake)

Texan99 said...

I do see a lot of unhinged posts with no link as backup, purporting to alert people to an actual and recent event. Either people don't know how to use a search engine to see if something's been reported in at least a semi-reliable source, or they don't care.

But the article isn't about how reliable Facebook is as a news source. It's about how reliable it is as an indicator of ordinary people's political preferences, the implication being that it's a lot more reliable than polls, and incomparably more reliable than chewing the fat with your NYT buddies at the local watering bubble.

It's dangerous to lie to people for years on end. People are difficult to get to focus on facts and logic at the best of times. It's nearly impossible once most of them conclude you're a bald-faced liar. Not that most people in history haven't always had some healthy skepticism about the class of people who enjoy ordering them around, but I'd still say things are in a particularly bad trough lately.

Texan99 said...

"Inside the right-wing Facebook bubble, President Trump’s response to Covid-19 has been strong and effective, Joe Biden is barely capable of forming sentences, and Black Lives Matter is a dangerous group of violent looters."

I mean, bingo.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Whenever I post generalisations about news sources, whether they be the company cafeteria or poli-sci research papers, I automatically ask myself before hitting publish "Could it be my side that is not looking at all the information here? Is it I who needs to take Rog Phillips' Yellow Pill?"

It seems there is no one seriously asking themselves that question on the left. They have defined themselves as the ones who are the open-minded ones who consider a variety of viewpoints, and therefore no longer need to actually do that.

David Foster said...

The reliability of FB as a political indicator is surely better than that of a collection of media types, and probably better than that of twitter...but still, it is limited by the fact that so many people will not express their political preferences there, either out of fear of career consequences or of social unpleasantness.

Texan99 said...

If so, then I hope that the occasional predictions of a Trump landslide are not too off-base.

MikeD said...

"The closing argument is that right-wingers have an unfair advantage in emotional engagement, and Facebook doesn't help censor them enough."

And again, the impulse towards fascism rears its head. "We can't win on ideas, we need to silence them!" /smdh

douglas said...

AVI, that seems right to me. The left has moved more and more into a bubble centered around social acceptability and an almost religious belief system of values like "diversity" that mean nothing ultimately, but are as binding on them as the ten commandments on a Christian or Jew. Being like that doesn't lend itself to being contested, so they further insulate, and social media makes that easier than ever to do, to bathyscaphe levels.

There's something about Convservatives, especially libertarian minded ones, that is drawn *to* the conflict of ideas.

The separation has become almost complete.

It would help if people on social media understood they need to cultivate a feed that includes non-agreeing sources or it will be a full bubble.

I'm on twitter way more than I should be, and I've been seeing, over the last three days or so, a lot of independent/libertarian minded accounts that were definitely not pro-Trump come to the point of saying they think they're going to have to vote for him. Almost a tidal shift. I think a tipping point has been reached.

Anonymous said...

I think part of the shift from "Biden is the lesser of two evils" to "I'm holding my nose and voting for Trump" is the (D) party as a whole assiduously avoiding decrying the now-lethal violence and destruction of property. When the new book comes out next month justifying looting as a form of non-violent protest, it won't help. Diversity sounds wonderful until it gets coupled with "your family business/place of employment can be destroyed and you have no moral right to complain."

Which brings us around to the question of "What is diversity? What sort of diversity?" I'm not certain that FB and Twitter are the best places to find the answer to those questions. (Full disclosure, I can't be on social media, for several reasons.)


Texan99 said...

"There's something about Convservatives, especially libertarian minded ones, that is drawn *to* the conflict of ideas."--The qualifier "especially libertarian minded ones" is critical. My little red county has got libertarian Rs and county-club Rs. The country-club Rs are not in the least drawn to the conflict of ideas. They like a compliant electorate. Philosophical debate makes them uneasy to the point of icy hostility. I don't get the impression they have philosophical reasons for most of what they do; it's more of a protective coloration thing, going along with the right crowd. For them a right-leaning insurgent is much the same as a left-leaning one.

ymarsakar said...

What do americans think is the benefit of having demoncrat traitors in charge of oversighting fair elections? I do not see it