In a testament to how social media users are attuned to right-wing dogwhistles, a Facebook “fan” page ginned up anger simply by sharing a photograph of liberal billionaire George Soros and making an unfounded claim without even the least patina of evidence.
The entirety of the post, published on 8 November 2018 on a page devoted to former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, was a picture of Soros with the caption “GEORGE SOROS DEMANDS DEMOCRATS PAY HIM BACK ALL MONEY INVESTED IN LOST ELECTIONS!”:
Despite the utter lack of evidence, members of the group reacted as if the post had stated something legitimate:
Soros, a frequent target of anti-Semitic and outright false allegations from right-wing media outlets and web sites, made around $15 million in political donations prior to the 2018 midterm elections, but there is no record of his asking for any sort of “payback” from Democrats (an action that would quite possibly be illegal). In October 2018, Soros was one of several critics of President Trump who was targeted
While Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has said that his company would emphasize content from “group” pages in an order to “encourage meaningful interactions between people,” experts have warned that this makes users susceptible to receiving more concentrated amounts of misinformation on their feeds, as BuzzFeed reported in March 2018:
Spamming groups is a global tactic on Facebook, and it often involves clickbait and misinformation. For example, in the summer of 2016, a network of sites sprung up that published false stories about bombings and terrorist attacks taking place in different cities. The stories were almost identical except that the location changed in each version. While investigating the origins of the hoaxes, BuzzFeed News documented how a young man in the republic of Georgia used his Facebook account to share a link to a false story about a bombing in Philadelphia in a series of Facebook groups focused on that city.