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Gerontologist. 2014 Apr;54(2):172-6. doi: 10.1093/geront/gns194. Epub 2013 Feb 7.

Facebook as a site for negative age stereotypes.

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Address correspondence to Becca R. Levy, Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Yale School of Public Health, 60 College Street, PO Box 208034, New Haven, CT 06520-8034. E-mail:


Ageism has been found to exist throughout a wide variety of societal institutions. Whether it also exists in social networking sites has not been previously considered. To explore this possibility, we conducted a content analysis of each publicly accessible Facebook group that concentrated on older individuals. The site "Descriptions" of the 84 groups, with a total of 25,489 members, were analyzed. The mean age category of the group creators was 20-29; all were younger than 60 years. Consistent with our hypothesis, the Descriptions of all but one of these groups focused on negative age stereotypes. Among these Descriptions, 74% excoriated older individuals, 27% infantilized them, and 37% advocated banning them from public activities, such as shopping. Facebook has the potential to break down barriers between generations; in practice, it may have erected new ones.


Age stereotypes; Ageism; Attitudes & perception toward aging/aged; Intergen- erational relationships; Social media

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