Ben Shapiro, political commentator and founder of the polarizing conservative website The daily thread, “rule” effectively Facebook, NPR reported Monday, writing that it “was driving an unprecedented engagement machine on the world’s largest social networking site.”
The daily thread was so successful, in fact, that in May, the site “generated more Facebook engagement on its posts than The New York Times, The Washington Post, NBC News and CNN combined, âwrites NPR. Over the past year, his stories have seen more likes, shares and comments on Facebook “than any other news publisher by a wide margin.”
But how does he do it? Well, to begin with, “there is a demand among certain subsets of the public for a policy of outrage”, and those “to the right” – like The daily thread – are really good at it, said Jaime Settle, director of the social media and political psychology lab at the College of William & Mary.
Although the site declares itself “committed to providing” truthful, precise and ethical reporting, The daily thread chooses to cover stories that “bolster the Conservative agenda” and align with pre-existing biases of its audience, according to NPR. For example, Shapiro’s site published “at least 25 papers related to critical breed theory” during the first two weeks of July. And NPR reports finding “many” stories about the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine over the past two months, but none about the vaccine’s “demonstrated effectiveness”.
âThey tend not to provide a lot of context for the information they provide,â Settle added. “If you’ve removed enough context, any piece of truth can turn into an element of misinformation.”
Shapiro, for his part, rejects the idea that any content on his site could be labeled “misinformation.” Either way, argues Deen Freelon, a professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, âit’s hard to deny that [Shapiro is] do what he does well. “