Black Lives Matter and its Counter-Movements on Facebook
27 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2022
Date Written: December 7, 2021
Racial inequality and discrimination are some of the most pressing social issues (Chetty et al., 2020; Goncalves & Mello, 2021). Yet, despite the increasing awareness of racial disparities and the need for social change (Horowitz et al., 2019), movements opposing racial justice are on the rise (Daniels, 2017; Phadke & Mitra, 2020). However, there has been a lack of large-scale, systematic analysis of discussions about racial movements on the world’s largest social media, Facebook. Here, we study the evolution of Black Lives Matter (BLM) and its counter-movements on Facebook from their inception to the present. In particular, we examine the information ecosystem that enables the production and dissemination of their narratives based on the largest Facebook dataset that has been ever reported on these movements. We find that, since the early days of BLM, counter-movement groups have maintained a consistent and significant presence on the platform and are continuing to grow. Importantly, although Facebook pages and groups supporting BLM have been dominant in terms of the number of groups and the volume of content produced, counter-movement groups have attracted far more attention than BLM groups in terms of content engagements, such as shares, comments, and reactions. We also found that counter-movement groups relied more significantly on low credibility sites, as well as conservative and far-right news sources. The findings provide evidence of the long-term evolution of online groups opposing racial justice on the social media platform and the infiltration of biased and misleading information through the fragmented and polarized patterns of connections within the digital platform.
Keywords: Social media, social movement, online community, social network, misinformation
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