March 31, 2013
#News #Study | Facebook enables the spread of racism
Picture from Bubblews.com

As stated on their own page, the social networking website Facebook's mission is to " make the world more open and connected." However, a new study suggests that Facebook has also managed to enable the spread of racist messages on its platform.

The study looked at the relationship between frequency of Facebook use and attitude toward negative racial messages that are presented on Facebook. White participants  were shown 3  types of messages about race and had to communicate how they felt about the content.

The messages presented to participants were said to be written by Jack Brown, a 26 year-old white male.

In the racist message with superiority content, Jack said he was proud of his race because white people behave better than black people. He supported his opinion by giving a report of his examination of black and white teenagers' behavior at the mall, and a black man and a white man flirting with the same girl. Also, Jack acknowledged that he should not generalize, but he was still proud of his race and his friends agreed with him.

In the racist message with victim content, Jacks argued that white people were the most oppressed
racial group in America. He referred to many cases of discrimination toward whites that he has experienced like his cousin who did not get a job because she was white. Jack added that white people were not a protected group and could not resist oppression. He then added that his friends agreed.

In the egalitarian message, Jack recognized that discrimination against Blacks still persisted. He used examples to support his point of view. Again he mentioned his friends who had the same opinion.

Results of the study showed that the majority of participants agreed with Jack's racist content and would share the message on Facebook. This group also used Facebook more frequently.

The study also found a smaller number of users who did not agree with the racist content, but accepted the message that encouraged racial equality. This smaller group was made of people who use Facebook as a source of information rather than entertainment.

This study also found that most people use Facebook to be entertained. This majority does not exercise critical thinking while on the site and therefore is more influenced by racist content.

Also, those who seem to think more critically when using Facebook engage less in racist behavior on the social media site.

Because this study was made with white American participants, there is no way to tell if the same results will be found on African users, since other social parameters will have to be taken into consideration. But we should think about this phenomenon. Tribalism (and racism) has been plaguing many African societies for years. Will the penetration of Facebook in Africa emphasize tribalism among African Facebook users? Will Facebook play a role in tribal discrimination?

Nowadays, more African countries are proud to be more connected to the world via online media. However, before we rejoice, let's make sure that this trend is instrumental to the prosperity of African communities and not their failures.


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