THE RABBIT HOLE

A random Twitter user named Gwen Snyder offered the world a simple observation that more or less blew half of the internet's mind last week.

As someone who gets contacted / threatened by a lot of random weirdos, Gwen apparently got fairly adept at checking people out on Facebook to see what kind of nut she's dealing with. I get a lot of weird contacts too, although nothing that ever made me legitimately worried that I might be in danger – more the 'obsessive internet guy who wants attention' variety. But I do usually look at profiles when someone is really pestering me; not the one comment telling me I'm an asshole type, but the kind that sends private messages by the dozens. Usually it's obvious with one glance that the guy (it's usually a guy, but surprisingly not always) is standard issue alt-right garbage. Lots of Facebook timeline posts about white genocide, lots of "snowflake" memes, etc.

Gwen points out something I never knew, which is that if you look at which pages a Facebook user has "Liked" it lists them in chronological order. This is different than the "likes" a person makes on regular posts – it doesn't track those in any way other users can see. But if you like pages (Chicago Bears, Gin and Tacos, CBS News, whatever) it lists them in the order you liked them. So she found that it was easy in many cases not only to see that the person bothering her is now into the white nationalist discourse, but how they got there.

She takes us through the example of a guy in Philadelphia whose "likes" began with normal "middle aged urban white guy" preferences – the local news networks and newspapers, local elected officials (both parties), Philadelphia sports teams, and some generic "we support our police" type stuff. Then he discovered Fox News and everything changed. Soon it was a parade of Fox News personalities, then the more prominent right-wing internet presences that Fox promotes (Turning Point USA, Ben Shapiro, Brietbart, etc.) Then came the hardcore Trump sites – not just Trump himself, but the "we love our hero president" meme factory groups on Facebook. Then, especially once he crossed the threshold into Breitbart territory, came the explicitly far-right / white power stuff.

It literally tracks step-by-step the process of this guy becoming a white nationalist threatening to kill people on Twitter, whereas he was once a normal Average Joe who liked going to pancake breakfast fund raisers for the local Fire Department and thought his Democratic mayor wasn't half-bad. We've all seen people we know go through this process but couldn't really quantify it. It turns out that Facebook tracks the evolution pretty systematically.

Fox News absolutely is a gateway drug. It's not just what Fox itself covers – it's the way it introduces addicts to the broader universe of the right wing internet. And it doesn't take long before the user is introduced to the Harder Stuff. The journey from Fox & Friends to explicit white supremacy is surprisingly short.

As Gwen demonstrates toward the end of her thread, this kind of progression doesn't go unnoticed. Her "friend" was identified quickly by local white power groups in Philadelphia and followed on Facebook. They know a good potential recruit when they see one – and they know where to look.

33 thoughts on “THE RABBIT HOLE”

  • My mom went full Fox News birther after Obama got elected. Saw Stormfront in her browser history back in 2012.

    The rest of the family is in denial she knows what that even is. So, yeah.

  • I am amazed (even after all this time) how many people have seen this happen in their families, have tried to intervene as calmly and clearly as they can, and how fruitless those interventions have been. It really is like the opioid crisis – something that didn't exist previously has not only been manufactured and promoted in a very short period of time, but has taken on truly scary proportions. And it seems just as incurable by any kind of rehab. The person in my family who most fits the picture was a mildly-conservative older person who went full Trumpian nut job in about the space of two years. I am more frightened, though, by the younger ones, in their 30s, who buy into this out of ignorance and misplaced anger.

  • Given my point of origin in Middleofnowhere Bumblefuck Michigan, I'm shocked I have not had more family dragged into this reverse sphincter. My mom's facebook has tinges of it; Jeanine Pirro being the only noteworthy one. But on the whole, despite being pretty much the exact audience you'd expect to get sucked in, she's somehow avoided it. Pink RealTree purse, and all *shudder* Not to say I'm not glad my family have avoided fire-breathing white supremacist dummies. But my surprise is genuine.

  • Sometimes positing guilt by association, however attenuated, and presuming to connect "Climate of Hate" inspiration dots is reprehensible where good and decent and sophisticated leftists are concerned, even after–especially after–ideological violence, mayhem and murder.

    Sometimes leftists declare that it's reprehensible NOT to duly assign that guilt, and connect those dots. Needless to say, the test distinguishing the two sets of circumstances is one born of intellectual consistency and ethical integrity, not craven, outcome-based partisan favoritism.

  • What is not mentioned is how facebook has gone full faux news with its refusal to take down bogus Pelosi videos so the question now becomes how many of facebooks actions are trying to groom and urge members to the alt right?
    Recommendations, promoted babbleing, cited "influencers" et.al. that slowly and almost impercetabily push tempt and groom for the alt right.
    After all facebook is just following Willie Sutton's advice and going where the money is.
    That any progressive is on facebook is nigh on digital suicide. Cambridge analytics has shown all your information and that of any one who you exposed to this malicious vampire squid is going directly into the right wing databases.
    Any campaign using facebook must accept anything about their campaign including contacts, contributors, schedules, plans and/or discussions are going straight to the RNC.
    Unsurprisingly the thuglicrat leaders of the DCCC love facebook since they know it will help them kneecap any progressives that manage to slip through the dccc's love of conservative d's and newly flipped thuglicans. lipinski, cuellar et.al. get unreserved support from their progressive hating allies at the dccc and now by putting everything on facebook they never have to worry that the rnc might be surprised by any of their actions.

  • Oh, Inky.

    Luckily your posts over the years have made it endlessly clear that you are a reactionary troll and we will never need to do such "research" on YOU.

    It's amazing how…sensitive…you are. Nobody is accusing anyone of anything, proposing punishment, etc. She was simply interested in how people pick up their points of view, and Facebook actually DID provide an interesting, time-tracked mechanism for doing that.

  • Brian–

    Your own "research" might begin with reading and then responding to what I actually posted here.

    If sensitivity to hypocrisy, stupidity and tendentious sanctimony is wrong, I don't want to be right.

  • "If sensitivity to hypocrisy, stupidity and tendentious sanctimony is wrong, I don't want to be right."
    Exactly if one is "If sensitivity to hypocrisy, stupidity and tendentious sanctimony" one cannot be on the right, or they are just another participant of the gish gallop that the right promote as sanity to scam the fools.
    "If sensitivity to hypocrisy, stupidity and tendentious sanctimony" they canNOT stomach faux news.
    "If sensitivity to hypocrisy, stupidity and tendentious sanctimony" they can NOT support thuglicans.
    "If sensitivity to hypocrisy, stupidity and tendentious sanctimony" one can NOT support christianist's delusions.
    Since hypocrisy, stupidity and tendentious sanctimony is all they can spew forth.

  • It was kind of startling to find out about that "like" sequence thing. It certainly puts a new twist on that "where was he radicalized" line – and it's at least mildly amusing that for a change Facebook is unwittingly documenting their own role in spreading right-wing extremism. It might not be deliberate, but Facebook does seem to be among the most useful of idiots when it comes to facilitating right-wing extremism. It seems to be such a recurring problem that I have a hard time believing it can be entirely accidental.

  • Remember facebook started as a way to degragate women on Ivy league campus so considering its roots not so surprising that it is reverting to form.
    The rightwing whack job tilt of its algorhytms is no accident.
    It makes more money off the ethical bankrupt and intellectually dishonest and with demented donnie leading the way those people will protect zuck the cuck's ability to keep more and more of it while avoiding taxes and regulations.
    It is part of the whole faux news, breibart, rnc in promting ignorance, bigotry and stupidity.

  • @ K:

    It appears, at least to me, that ,most of the intertoobz instant zillionaires are assholes–just like the vast majority of rich men, everywhere. They think money makes them smarter or makes their dicks bigger.

  • K—

    Please say something besides “I’m a Leftist!”, willya? Are you a bowler, for instance?

  • @democommie
    Yes you are right about the instant millionaires.
    Reminds of the days of yore (before the 70's/80's) when king crab prices sky rocketed.
    used to be that king crab deckhands were by and large college kids working for school money.
    They would make a couple of thousand and they would return to school.
    Then the prices went ballistic and all of a sudden these kids ( and at 18 to 20 they were kids) were receiving paychecks of $20K and the fisheries was so lucrative that banks were lining up to give loans out to these kids who only had a couple years of experience.
    Now since they were in hock up to their necks for boats they really had no business owning with no history or regard for the resource they hammered the resource and, to talk to any of them, knew everything since they owned a million dollar boat, and license.
    Of course the resource started to crash from overfishing and only government intervention, which was evil since it cut into the theorical profits of these children, saved the resource and the fisheries. ( tighter catch limits, shorter season, Individual Transferable Quota's, greater oversight)
    So the same is for the techno wealthy right place at right time hit it big and of course it was – exclusively- becaue they were sooo very smart.
    Sorry for feeding the troll.

  • K—

    If you’re going to apologize, make it to yourself, for being such an unimaginative, conformist yutz. There are plenty already. You want more for yourself, don’t you?

  • @ K:

    When enough people stop giving him more than, "Fuck off, troll", he will.

    Like the previous resident asstroll, he likes to bait people and never actually says anything worthy of note.

    As for your link. I like the idea. OTOH, I talk to a lot of young people–approximately 8K undergrads at the local SUNY campus–and a lot of them are convinced by FB or teh Twizzler that being involved in politics is a waste of time, 'cuz Pelosi is Trump in drag or something. I call them, with great affection, fucking moronz.

  • One of the great sins of the so called "objectivity" of the press has been their addiction to try to find balance. Add to the faact that they mistake volume for reason.
    Classic example is Global Warming. The actual count of 97% of sceintist's agree with published data and the FACT that what we are seeing now were part of the sceintit's warnings/scenarios from the 1970's and 80's
    Yet rather then interview, and publish, 97 scientists who accept reality before giving the 3 fantastist's they present it as a one on one discussion plus they allow the delusional to engage in a gish gallop with little if no pushback by the reporters.
    In doing so they besmirch everyone involved and essentially promote ennui on the subject.
    So it is with "both siderism" no matter how fruitcake one side might be.
    By promoting disgust and distrust of the political system they, in effect, limit the franchise of voting to the true beleivers who, for those on the right, all to often are the most delusional.
    This idea of shrinking the size of the voting populace to enable a smaller and smaller group to seize more and more power is a tactic the right adopted from trotsky.
    So point out to your young misguided souls that by giving up on politics they have accepted being manipulated and have surrendered their free will.
    so if they are consciensly deciding to become nothing more then puppets why bother with an education, just go to a trade school.

  • @K:

    Yep.

    Both sides are exactly alike–except for whichever of the candidates has made promises that would either fail in Congress or turn out to be bad, populist ideas.

  • Re: the post topic, it's both pathetic and dangerous how easily people are led by the nose ring.
    Then on the comment tangent: rumor has it Carrstone OD'd on cheetos and oreos; this other punk on the scene, por favor . . .

  • @democommie
    With mcconnell acting as the grave digger of our democracy the saner the proposal the less chance of it getting passed.
    So, alas, part of your differenation between the two fails not because one side actually knows how to write a constititional law that helps the citizens and the other conspiciously does not. But rather in an attempt to destroy our government the looney tunes maintain total obstruction in the name of promoting ignorance and destroying the idea of promoting actions that enhance the general good.

  • @ magp:

    THAT was fucking masterful!

    @ K:

    I was speaking of the candidates who pander to THEM instead of to me! {;>)

    Seriously–I often have someone who hatez both Hilary and the Orange Shitgolem that they really respect Gary Johnson's, Bernie's or some other non-aligned pol's take on the issues. When asked about the "issues", they're usually not able to articulate beyond the level of the soundbites they hear. It's fucking sad.

  • "The mesolimbic pathway of a xenophobe""

    sounds like a dance move.

    I think that Ed should put a little more information in the textbox, for those people alone:

    "Start typing–after you finish thinking"

    I realize that for some of them, "thinking" is a novelty.

  • Fellas–

    Messenger-blaming and navel-gazing does not suddenly morph into a substantive rejoinder (of my first comment on this thread) by dint of volume. Gnats rarely roll alone under any circumstances.

  • Inky: So sad. Your effort to harass us dirty libs doesn't seem to be working very well. It's been months since your last post? Time for another break?

  • Brian—

    No, about three hours.

    It’s not about me. It’s about the substance of my initial comment on Ed’s latest sermon. You ankle-biters for predictable reasons prefer the former to the latter. Sigh.

  • @democommie
    "When asked about the "issues", they're usually not able to articulate beyond the level of the soundbites they hear. It's fucking sad."
    Remember Populism gave us the klan.
    Progressives gave us the Grange and unions.

    This is exactly why populism always turns to the whack jobs and the right. Populism is based upon "bumper sticker" solutions. So "populist's" cannot express answers of any depth other they do NOT have any.
    Remember Populism gave us the klan.
    Look to Europe and the supposedly progressive populist's of France and Italy. Nacron is nothing but a tool for the corporate state where he has endeavoured to make France freindlier for corporations and the wealthy at the cost of limiting work rules, corporate legal liabilities and progressive ideas.
    Or Italy where the 5 star movement has surrendered to the new fascism of salvini and bannon.
    Both got into power with "progressive populist" movements. Both have proven that oxymoron canNOT exist in the real world.

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