Despite Facebook ban of Donald Trump, social media remains a mess. Here’s…


Kurt Gray and Curtis Puryear, Opinion contributors Published 11:09 a.m. ET May 6, 2021

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Former President Donald Trump was banned from Facebook after his comments on the Capitol riots in January. USA TODAY

When Americans log onto social media, they see a culture war fought in seemingly every post and thread.

Facebook’s decision to uphold its ban of former President Donald Trump from the platform

will earn millions of words in the coming days. The focus on social media platforms’ influence comes after years of study after study showing that young Americans are pessimistic about the future of our country.

And who can blame them?

When they read the news, they hear that America is more divided than ever. When they log onto social media, they see a culture war fought in seemingly every post and thread.

But when you take political conversations beyond a news sound bite or a 280-character tweet, and focus on context and substance, the divide narrows. Strangers find common ground. And people have a better chance of developing real respect for each other, regardless of the political views and beliefs that divide them.

These bridges over our social and political chasms are what we’re trying to build at the University of North Carolina Center for Moral Understanding. In ongoing research, we’re studying how to bring perspective and context into everyday conversations about politics.

We encourage people to talk about how elected officials make decisions and how people with strong political opinions arrive at them – not just whether the beliefs they have are good or bad. It’s a way to help people understand their own perspectives without telling anyone that their views should change.

It’s a difficult challenge – and not just because of the social media-driven decline of respectful dialogue.

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