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Study: Facebook Users Exhibit Hostility Toward The Elderly

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File photo of the Facebook homepage. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GettyImages)

File photo of the Facebook homepage. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GettyImages)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (CBS Connecticut) – The findings of a recently conducted study indicate that younger users of Facebook discriminate against older members of the online community – and aged persons in general.

Researchers at Yale University’s School of Public Health described the social network’s environment as “injurious” to elderly participants, according to the Yale Daily News.

Their findings were chronicled in a study entitled “Facebook as a Site for Negative Age Stereotypes,” and was authored by Prof. Becca Levy.

“Because Facebook is a corporation built on social relationships, it has a responsibility to ensure these relationships are not injurious — to those directly involved or to those indirectly affected by them,” Levy said in the study.

Yale researchers reportedly worked with other experts from Hunter College, the Hopkins School and the University of California, Berkeley. During their collaborative effort, the team searched through the Facebook website for groups whose names involved synonyms for older persons. Content analysis was performed on the group descriptions – 84 online groups in all, the News learned.

Upon examining the tone and phrasing employed by the groups’ organizers and membership, a frequently occurring trend of negative speech toward and about the elderly was said to be observed.

Levy and other researchers hope their study will shed light on the hostility fostered through these Facebook groups, and that managers of the site will take action against age-based discrimination.

“One thing that’s been kind of nice in writing this is that the Facebook spokesperson requested a copy of the article,” Levy told the News. “Somebody there is looking at the article. It would be great if some of these particularly offensive groups were taken down.”

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