At a time when facts and mutual respect are needed more than ever, some political donors are drafting a blueprint to expand echo chambers.

On Sunday, The New York Times reported that the donor class is funneling its cash to partisan organizations with a reputation for designing viral-worthy social media content. You’ve likely seen the posts before. See my sarcastically-produced samples below.

Now if you assume these are the grumblings of someone who is unwilling to accept modern technologies, you’re assuming wrong. At age 28, I am firmly “Millennial”, with all that implies. What’s more, I have spent my entire adult career as a manager of prominent social media accounts. It is because I was an early adopter of social media as an effective marketing tool that I am so disillusioned by what it has become.

Partisan memes in many ways are the yellow journalism of this generation. Like the embarrassing period of 19th century journalism, partisan social media accounts casually manipulate facts to benefit their agenda.

Let’s look at Public Radio International’s description of yellow journalism to see the overlap. According to PRI, yellow journalism:

  • Was any journalism that treated news in an unprofessional or unethical manner.
  • Created a sensation that would prompt people to buy copies of the paper.
  • Sought out crime, scandal and salacious detail.
  • Left out facts that got in the way of a gripping story.

Sound familiar?

Luckily, there’s still hope for social media. In the decades following yellow journalism’s heyday, the industry evolved and greatly improved. Social media can go the same route, if only we demand better content.