Ben Smith, the former director of the viral news site BuzzFeed Today, a columnist specializing in the media sector for The New York TimesAnd the Retreated The story of Anthem Joseph Geunette, a former employee of A. BuzzFeed Who in recent years has become a far-right conspirator and influencer, on January 6th Share Assault on the United States Congress by Donald Trump supporters. According to Smith, Geonette went from reporter to BuzzFeed, A progressive, far-right and riotous post that can be explained at least in part by the “pull” of social media, that is, by the extreme mental dynamics driving the search for consensus online, which Gionet has only learned to handle. BuzzFeed.
Smith wrote that Gionet had started on it BuzzFeed In 2015 as the head of Vine, a social short viral video that was in some ways an introduction to TikTok. After a few months, he also took charge of the Twitter channel, always aiming to create as light and fast-spreading content as possible. BuzzFeedIt is, as it is now, a site that combines viral entertainment content with professional journalism, and at the time its approach to the first type of content was pioneering: “We were the best at the time doing things for social media,” Haddad wrote.
Also read: What are we finding out about the congressional attack
Gionet’s value, in this context, was that he would “do anything for Vine”, that is, to create videos that could go viral, and as such was a “natural talent”, with insight into what kind of video it would be. More Sharing. When Gionet released a live video from the Occupying Congress on January 6, Smith recognized some of the terms used at the time in BuzzFeed.
Smith never worked directly with Gionet, but he spoke to three of his former colleagues who described him as “sensitive,” “desperate to be appreciated,” “empty on the inside,” and devoid of ideologies and values. Policy. In 2016, he began building a political figure: first he put on his desk a picture of Bernie Sanders, the left-wing senator who was the main opponent of Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries, then he began supporting Donald Trump and going in the editorial office with a cover with the words MAGA, Make America Great again. Later, also in 2016, Gionet was appointed as a “tour manager” by Milo Yiannopoulos, one of the earliest influencers on Trump and the far right, often accused of racism and anti-Semitism.
Also read: The rise and fall of Milo Yiannopoulos
From there, Gionet began his career in the far-right environment, always linked to social media, right up to the congressional attack. He participated in racist demonstrations in Charlottesville and built some notoriety on right-wing social media through his public statements of neo-Nazis and conspiracy. Among other things, under the pseudonym Baked Alaska is famous for some live videos on YouTube where Spray a stinging spray On the face of people he met by chance.
Nevertheless, Smith writes, it remains “unclear what Geunt believes, as long as he believes in something.” The main motivation behind his actions appears to be the desire to become or remain popular online, and to seek approval from the far-right audience. According to Smith, deflection techniques have been studied and refined by BuzzFeed Perhaps they helped turn Gionet into an extremist.
If you have never had the experience of posting something on social media that has truly gone viral, you might not understand its deep emotional appeal. Suddenly you find yourself at the center of a digital world, and is getting the attention of many people like never before. The rush of encouragement you receive can make you feel dizzy and addictive. And if you don’t have much to stick with, you risk getting lost.
They also tried to publish our work a BuzzFeedWe had limitations – dictated by the truth in the state of our news division and the need to align with generally positive values in our entertainment division. But Gionet got rid of those restrictions, and apparently followed the mentions he found on social media without any hesitation. His urgency was to build an audience. He praised Bernie Sanders before chanting anti-Semitic slogans in Charlottesville, Virginia, then temporarily retracted these extreme allegations but subsequently committed violent crimes on YouTube. He built an audience among coronavirus deniers, and then, when he appeared to have the disease, he posted a screenshot of the positive test results on Instagram and a tearful emoji. A few weeks later, he joined the Trump uprising in Congress.
Andrew Gautier, who was one of the pioneering video creators of BuzzFeed And those who would later serve in Joseph Biden’s presidential campaign. “One thinks that evil comes from characters like movie villains, and then realizes that – oh no, evil can simply start with bad jokes and nihilistic behavior fueled by constant encouragement on various platforms.”
According to Smith, many extremists tend to view them as the only, isolated, and easy prey of online extremists, but that wouldn’t be the case with Gionet:
Gionet’s not well known story is about a lonely young man who falls under the influence of videos in his bedroom poisoning his worldview. It is the story of a man who is rewarded for being a violent white nationalist, and receiving the attention and encouragement he so desperately seeks.
We spent a lot of time on BuzzFeed To think about how we can improve our content for an online audience; Gionet improved himself. […]
Her story makes me wonder if those who have pioneered the use of social media to spread information bear a share of the blame. Maybe we contributed with the creators of social media to open Pandora’s Box?
Smith also cites another former employee of his, and his case is even more famous: Benny Johnson. He was hired in 2012 as a conservative voice within a primarily progressive editorial staff like BuzzFeedJohnson has turned to the extreme right. He was fired in 2014 for plagiarism but has continued his highly visible career on social media, and today he presents a program on Newsmax, one of the most popular Trumpian TV networks out there, calling a few days ago for the overthrow of the election result. In this case also, social media plays a role, because according to Smith Johnson’s interest in the extreme right, even before the journalist or ideologist, it is considered “aesthetic”, and because for him as well, the pioneering viral techniques that I learned in BuzzFeed I became a central component.
When we polished BuzzFeed’s new social media practices, we realized belatedly that the far right was watching us closely and eventually imitated us.