Image to illustrate social networks.
Social networks have promoted the phenomenon. Photo: Pixabay.

LLYC and Más Democracia’s study confirms increased polarization in the Americas

The report also points out that digital platforms generate addiction.


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"THD: The Hidden Drug" is the name of this report that gave rise to a campaign that shows how the excessive use of social networks can, in certain cases, become a highly addictive drug.

Using big data and artificial intelligence, the study included the participation of experts in neuroscience and psychology who analyzed conversations on social networks in countries such as the United States, Mexico, Brazil, among others.

JF Muñoz, LLYC U.S. CEO, pointed out:

This addiction to social media, and especially polarizing content, generates symptoms similar to those of a type C drug in both people and society. This trend is especially significant in today's world in which mass use of social media continues to grow.

Key findings

Warning about the progressive increase in this pattern of behavior, which has already reached 15% annual growth in the U.S., the report reflects a level of involvement or engagement of users from both sides of the political spectrum in the territories of conversation.

These are the most relevant results of the study segmented by country:


  • U.S. — The topics that most polarize the conversation are abortion, climate change, immigration, racism, and human rights. Likewise, freedom of expression is the issue that most polarizes society, while human rights is the one that mobilizes the greatest volume of conversation.
  • Latam — The key issues, that divide opinion the most, are abortion, freedom of expression and human rights. In Mexico, for example, the conversation is growing very markedly around the issues of freedom of expression, human rights, racism, abortion, and feminism.

“Mexico is less polarized than the United States and Brazil; there is a greater consensus regarding feminism and climate change, as well as much less polarity and a more moderate level of involvement in conversations, compared to other Ibero-American countries,” highlights the report.

Political stances

  • United States, Colombia and Brazil — In these countries it is the progressive sector that dominates the field of conversation.
  • Mexico, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, and Panama — In these nations the conservative part is the predominant one.

Polarization and social movements

  • United States — Racism presents the greatest consensus, allowing its percentage in the polarization index to be reduced by up to 74% on social networks. Likewise, the conversation about abortion has experienced a growth of 76%.
  • Latin America — The conversation about feminism has had an annual growth of 18% in volume in the region.

The report analyzed 600 million social media posts, collected between September 1, 2017, and August 31, 2022. To download the full report, video, and campaign images, click here.

“It is difficult to measure the exact risk of an addiction; in some cases, it's well-known, but in others, like polarization, it's not. The lack of understanding generates high levels of hostility that lead social media users to see others as an opponent. This can be the true risk of a drug like polarization,” stressed Mariano Sigman, neuroscientist and author of The Power of Words.

About LLYC

It is a global communication, digital marketing, and public affairs consulting firm that helps its clients face their strategic challenges with solutions and recommendations based on creativity, technology and experience, seeking to minimize risks, take advantage of opportunities and take care of the environment.


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