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Right-wing media overwhelmingly dominates Facebook interactions on transgender-related content: study

2020-07-25

Right-wing outlets were responsible for 65% of Facebook interactions on transgender-related content from February 2019 to February 2020, according to a study published Monday by a media monitoring group.

Media Matters for America analyzed reactions to transgender topics on Facebook and found that conservative sources generated more interactions than LGBTQ, left-leaning and neutral sources combined.

In fact, right-leaning sources earned nearly two times the engagements of all other sources combined according to the organization, a progressive research center that monitors “conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.”

The findings build on previous Media Matters studies that have “repeatedly debunked allegations of a bias against right-wing content on Facebook.”

They are important because despite the group’s efforts, Facebook has “has consistently caved to conservative demands,” as right-wing media and pundits have for long claimed that the company’s policies exhibit liberal political bias.

For its latest study, Media Matters looked at more than 200 pieces of high-performing content on trans-related topics over the course of a year, which earned nearly 66 million reactions, comments and shares.

It found that right-wing outlets or organizations — such as The Daily Wire, LifeSiteNews, and The Alliance Defending Freedom, an organization that has been designated as an extremist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center — were the driving force behind 65.7% of those interactions.

LGBTQ-news sources accounted for 15.4% of interactions, while 3.9% came from left-leaning sources, 10.4% came from “nonaligned sources,” and 4.6% came form “other” sources.

According to the group, the findings are worrisome because an increasing number of people in the U.S. are now getting their news from social media companies, according to a 2019 study released by the Pew Research Center.

Nearly 30% of U.S. residents say they turn to social media platforms for news, and Facebook is by far the most commonly used, with 52% of all adults getting their news there.

Overall, seven of the top 10 sources for Facebook interactions on trans-related issues had anti-transgender rhetoric.

The only three LGBTQ sites among the top 10 were Gay Star News, Pink News and NBC Out.

Content about transgender athletes, medical care for transgender people, and specifically transgender youth were particularly popular among Facebook users.

“Misinformation about best-practice medical care for trans youth is particularly dangerous, as it could result in parents denying their children critical care or rejecting their identities, which can harm trans kids’ physical and mental well-being,” the report read.