For 24 hours, my task was to replace news sources on my social media with ones that are the polar opposite of what reflects my views, and then report my personal findings… so here we go :)
On October 8th, 2020 I created an Instagram that solely followed extremely conservative, right-wing, Canadian and American news accounts such as @news.rebel, @nypost, @torontosunonline and @foxnews. I selected these accounts because I really wanted to ensure that the content I was receiving was curated directly by outlets with reputations of being far-right, instead of seeing a combination of sources that can lean both to the right and centre. If I was going to do this I was aspiring for an extreme outcome.
Now before I divulge the impact of this assignment, there are a few things that should be noted. Prior to this exercise, I basically decided on my political stance exclusively from an ethical viewpoint, without taking the economical aspects into consideration whatsoever. On the other hand, I come from an extremely old-school, off the boat European family, who could be considered closed-minded at times, and do not pay as much attention to the ethics behind politics, they tend to care more about what will affect the economy. Consequently, growing up, I have been surrounded by both sides of the political spectrum but chose my sources based on what I thought would oppose my personal strong ethical beliefs.
To start, I critically selected my date as the 8th of October, so it fell the day after the American Vice Presidential debate, as I was intrigued to see if there was a prevalent divide in opinions on the rightist accounts. First of all, I feel I have to get it out of the way and just say that every single account including the Canadian ones had a post addressing the iconic fly on Mike Pence’s head. This was definitely done to control the narrative and maybe attempt to inject humour. The New York Post even mockingly compared Pence’s fly moment to Hillary Clinton in the last election term.
Time flies! Four years before fly stole the show at the vice presidential #debate by landing on…
Just as I expected, Fox News’s account was the most active, with over 24 posts in 24 hours. This made for good content to explore. Here’s where I could dive deep into every post that led me to a new understanding, but instead, I think I should explain what I unpacked from my experience because after, I was able to look at all posts with a completely different lens.
With my lack of experience in following these types of news outlets, I expected republican run accounts to be much more ruthless in their approach. However, I noticed that they were manipulative and calculated. This takes me to the overriding message that I have personally extracted from this task;
Media Bias can negatively affect people's perception, opinions and ultimately their decisions.
Where I thought that this exercise would help me narrow in and potentially see a side of the Republican/Conservative parties that I have not yet tried to understand (like pros they may possess from an economic standpoint) it did the opposite. It actually opened my eyes to an even wider lens that is less about political objectives and more about how the media and propaganda subconsciously shape people's views and cause a divide, depending on what sources you consume information from.
After reading more about media bias¹, I saw so many tactics used by these accounts. For example, Fox News used placement in the way they shared their information. They began with a narrow view praising Mike Pence …
Vice President Mike Pence defended the Trump administration's coronavirus response during the vice…
… so that is clear in the audience’s mind. They then maliciously pulled back to reveal information about Kamala Harris that did not inherently put her down, but also did not showcase her in a positive light, thereby making the audience believe they are not being fed biased information.
"If the doctors tell us we should take [the coronavirus vaccine], I'll be the first in line to take…
In addition, the New York Post capitalized on the fact that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez “slammed” Kamala Harris for saying that Joe Biden will not end fracking. Almost as if to display that the democrats do not have harmonious opinions and women in powerful positions are going against each other.
Rep. #AlexandriaOcasioCortez took a jab at her party's vice presidential nominee, Sen…
Whether the posts were sharing highlights of the debate or showcasing Toronto Sun’s “SUNshine” girl of the week, the content I absorbed from these accounts obviously varied based on the style of how they displayed their information, their country of origin, and the magnitude of their followers. However, what I took away from following specifically curated sources, is that one thing that does not vary is how information is manipulated.
 Media Bias in Canada. (October 23, 2019). The Canadian Encyclopedia https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/media-bias-in-canada
Change Your Perspective. Tiny Buddha. https://cdn.tinybuddha.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Change-your-perspective.png