women in flames

The appeal of social media: toxic content

Social media algorithms amplify outrageous content online as this is what keeps users engaged, and therefore leads to higher revenue from advertising.

Recent research proves that people are indeed interested in the toxic nature of social media. One study used a browser extension to detect toxic content on social media sites, and for some participants, the extension hid such content. This resulted in a decrease in content consumption on Facebook by 23% and a 9.2% drop in ad consumption on Twitter. Additionally, the intervention led to a reduction in the amount of toxic content being posted on both platforms, indicating the contagious nature of toxicity.

The widespread appeal of negativity on social media has contributed to a toxic online environment. However, by promoting positive and healthier content, we can create a more uplifting online community. For example, Taiwan is experimenting with a platform called Polis, which aims to bring people together rather than divide them.