Jacob Blake, a 29 year-old African American man, was shot seven times in the back and left paralyzed from the waist down by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin back in August of 2020. The shooting was followed by rallies, marches, property damage, arson, and clashes with the police. Blake’s name has since been invoked at Black Lives Matter protests which has seen a resurgence of importance following several high-profile murders by US police officers in 2020.
As the city of Kenosha braces for a decision in the case, the national guard has been mobilized by Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers to mitigate potential damage to the city. Kenosha has already been the site of several weeks of protests that turned violent following the August 23rd shooting by police Officer Rustin Shesky.
District Attorney Michael Graveley, a career prosecutor, is facing a storm of political pressure as the nation waits for him to make his decision public knowledge. In September, 2020 Gravely stated that his job is difficult because “the social media world has no patience for deliberate action”. Instead, we live in a world that values emotional appeals over an actual review of the facts.
We are all vulnerable to social media bias. Kristina Lerman, a principal scientist at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering Information Sciences Institute, and her team have found that our social media feeds expose us to a very biased representation of reality. Their research highlights how the structure of modern social networks lead to perception bias, meaning that your social connections on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Tik Tok can actually skew your perception of how prevalent a belief actually is in society at large.
Written by: Kelly Stewart