July 16, 2017By KEVIN ROOSE
In recent days, I’ve gotten to know beekeepers in Rhode Island, dental hygienists in New Jersey and Wiccans in Tennessee. I’ve seen gardeners swapping fertilizer advice, flight attendants complaining about annoying passengers and fishermen arguing about which lures are best for catching muskies. I now know that there are hundreds of people who love creating memes about “The Sopranos,” and thousands who believe, with total conviction, that the Earth is flat.
All of this has been revealed to me because, for the better part of a month, I have immersed myself in the fascinating, enlightening and sometimes scary world of private Facebook groups. I’ve gotten access to scores of private groups — more than 100 in all — ranging in size from a handful of members to millions. I’ve joined Facebook groups that represent my real-life interests (Home Cooks, Pitbull Fans) and groups that have nothing to do with me (Lyme Disease Group, Quilting for Beginners, Cannabis Growers Helping Cannabis Growers). For weeks, I lurked silently in these forums and, when possible, tried to interview their moderators