social media Essay

Youth is a time meant for self-discovery, a time in which many begin the journey of finding their true identity, and most importantly, a time where we are at our most vulnerable. This time is crucial in shaping who we will become, and at this time we are most susceptible to the hatred and deception that plague today’s society. As a young person myself, I will not stand for the exploitation of our vulnerability by individuals who advocate their malicious views, looking to organise and recruit, or for the benefit of widespread social media platforms to gain in profit.

I will not stand by as I watch more and more of my peer’s fall prey to the divisive, misleading content being disseminated on social media. Our presence on the platform is undeniable, Although the damaging consequences are overshadowed by the overarching benefit’s it offers. The exposure of detrimental content such as racism and hate speech has facilitated the spread of harmful ideologies amongst the youth, amplifying the presence of hatred and violence in our society.

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Members of the Australian youth forum, my request to you is the consideration of a government intervention regarding the ban of social media sites from disseminating discriminatory content. It is time our leader’s awaken to a great danger that could see the youth of Australia roped into hate driven extremism.

****The same technology that allows social media to connect people, gives hate groups the opportunity to take advantage of the vulnerability of people on the internet to organise and recruit. From the mere rants in the comment section of a post or news article, to reframing the meaning of news stories to support their views, social media is a hate groups most beneficial tool and our youth are the target. The algorithms implemented in the world’s most widespread social media apps allow for these sites to become gathering places for the likeminded, and a trap for the vulnerable youth looking for an identity. With every user’s experience mediated by this algorithm, the ultimate goal is to maximise engagement, meaning one curious click on a post or video could send an individual down a rabbit-hole of extreme content and conspiracy theories. Take YouTube as an example, the popular video sharing platforms not only boasts second spot to Facebook as the most popular social media platform, but has been accused of being “one of the most powerful radicalising instruments of the 21st century.” YouTube is fitted with an algorithm designed to push people towards extremist content for engagement, in doing this, the platform drives users towards videos promoting extremist views and conspiracy theories, which prompt them to consume more information to the point where they begin to believe it. 94 percent of Australian youth use social media, 94 percent of Australian youth are being exposed to extremist content profit (Hughes, 2019). Major companies are exploiting our vulnerability for profit, largely disregarding the consequences that may follow. With no relevant law pertaining to this matter, these major platforms continue to evade serious scrutiny over their complicity of spreading discriminatory content, increasing the prevalence of racism in today’s society.

Social media is built on the purpose of interaction, that in itself is validation that it is a breeding ground for detrimental ideologies. No matter the time or day, your daily scroll through social media is filled with posts of people expressing their opinions. However, the exploitation of this aspect by far-right groups bent on spreading racial hate and mistrust has been disregarded and the consequences unnoticed. The widespread use of social media provides a way for racist individuals and groups to reinforce their views and provoke violence (Luke, 2019). The manipulation of information, the creation of deceiving theories and the use of clever rhetoric are all strategies used by these user’s to lure the vulnerable. Research on cyber racism has found the highly sophisticated way in which they communicate racism online. These hate-driven groups use interactive and links to music video’s to attract young people not to mention the manipulation of their public image in various narrative strategies, such as humour and the interpretation of the current news to fit their contention.

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