Social media and COVID shaming: Fighting a toxic combination

published 26.09.2020 07:53

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Julian Siegel figures business dropped about 20% earlier this spring at his Fort Lauderdale, Florida, restaurant after someone posted a picture on the Nextdoor app of people waiting in his parking lot for food.

Social media also gives people isolated in a pandemic a quick way to join communities that share their beliefs.

Shaming can help people feel reassured that they have done things right and that the other person must have made a mistake, says Sherry Turkle, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who studies social media.

Social media sites like Facebook take this practice, which used to be confined to social circles or by geography, and scale it to mass proportions, making it effectively limitless.

But the warp speed and reach of social media in the pandemic era gives the practice an aggressive new dimension.