Does Facebook just harbour extremists, or does it create them?

Posts that affirm your group identity by attacking another group tend to perform well

When they talk about incitement to violence on Facebook - a growing problem in developing markets - representatives and critics of the platform alike tend to describe it as a problem created by small factions of extremists.

The extremists, in this view, push out rumours and inflammatory claims to everyday users, who become ideologically infected. So stopping the violence should be as simple as silencing the extremists.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 29, 2018, with the headline 'Does Facebook just harbour extremists, or does it create them?'. Print Edition | Subscribe