The most toxic social network on the Internet is Twitter. At least that’s what a study was done by the communications company SimpleTexting says. The survey was conducted in the United States in March 2022, with just over a thousand social network users aged between 18 and 75. The goal was to find out which platforms were considered more or less toxic by the public, taking into account aspects such as the circulation of hate speech, misinformation, and cyberbullying. To do this, respondents rated from 1 to 10 the harmfulness of seven social networks: Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube. 1 for little toxicity and 10 for very toxicity.

Twitter was found to be the most toxic social network, with a final average of 7.82. The microblog is known for being a venue for aggressive speech and quick cancellations. In addition, users find it more difficult to have healthy debates on social networks, partly due to the character limit per post – you can only write 280 characters per tweet.

The second most toxic social network for respondents was Reddit, with an average of 7.63. One of the hypotheses for this result is the fact that the platform allows anonymous posts, which would contribute to the spread of negativity since users are not exposed and are “protected” by anonymity.

Apps

In third place, with an average of 7.47, comes Facebook, a social network that has suffered several criticisms for its high rate of circulation of misinformation and fake news. Next come TikTok, with 6.83; Instagram, with 6.59; Snapchat, with 5.72 and YouTube, with 5.38.

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The survey also asked respondents which social networks have the most “trolls,” i.e., people who seek out publications to write negative comments. In this category, Twitter also led the ranking (38%), followed by Facebook (26.9%) and Reddit (14.8%).

Another point evaluated was the toxic content and reproduction of hate speech on social networks. The majority (90%) of respondents said they have seen negative posts about race, ethnicity, and culture, while 86% have encountered negative posts, made by users of their network, about sexual orientation and gender.

About this, 87% of respondents said they will block or stop following accounts that make toxic posts. On the other hand, 46% admitted having already interacted negatively with other people on social networks. Furthermore, 82% believe that hatred on virtual platforms has intensified because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Self-Esteem and Mental Health

The ranking also asked about the impact of social networking sites on people’s self-esteem and mental health. More than half (53%) of respondents revealed that their mental health is affected by reading toxic comments on social media platforms, while 61% are afraid to post about certain topics for fear of people’s reactions.

The survey showed that 45% of respondents consider Instagram as the social network that most negatively impacts people’s self-image. Among generation Z, this number is even higher: 68%. Finally, 5.2 out of 10 Americans have done a kind of “detox” from social networks in 2021 because of damage to mental health.

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