Sayoc’s reported social media accounts are perhaps the worst example of what being online can do to the older mind, especially a paranoid mind on the right. Social media studies suggest that conservatives are more likely than liberals to fall for fake news and disinformation.
People can blame right-wingers for sharing garbage, and even President Trump for spreading it at times. But Sayoc’s accounts, if they are his, are also the unintended consequence of the Silicon Valley mindset, the Zuckerbergian desire to ‘hack’ society and engineer it for the better. In that realm, it’s easy to find vulnerable minds to take advantage of. It’s not just Trump supporters who are at risk — look at how #Resistance quote-unquote heroes like Peter Strzok and Michael Cohen take advantage of the elderly with their #GoFundMe grifts. Boomers are cash-rich and altruistic — and sure, they can do what they want with their money — but there’s something wrong with exploiting a site intended to fundraise for charity to line the pockets of bit-part politicos. According to studies, older people distrust news on the internet as much as or even more than the young; but they also show that older people are more likely to trust a source that looks like news. They grew up with traditional news, television, radio, and ‘proper journalism’, and therefore are more likely to have faith in media sources. A recent study showed that boomers are 19 per cent more likely than any other age group to share news. That inevitably involves a lot of fake news.