Social media - an echo chamber for what you already think

8 May 2015

angrythomas After the General Election, a lot of people are suddenly finding out that social media is an echo chamber of your own views. So many have presumed that they're making a difference by telling everyone they've voted and getting a bunch of likes and retweets on the issues that concern them.

However, social media is not the real world because online, you can almost entirely surround yourself with people who agree with you - and that's no good.

A study shows that Facebook users almost only every click on links that they agree with. While you may have friends that have a wide spread of political views, people are only looking at the things that confirm what they already think - which sees people thinking they're 'right', and therefore, lacking the need to sensibly debate anything.

The new research published in Science shows that there's a self-sustaining "filter bubble". Hark at how many people were surprised that the Tories did so well in the election, and you'll see just how filtered some people's bubbles really are.

The new study was overseen by Facebook’s in-house scientists, who wanted to see if their algorithm was creating this filter and therefore, creating a political polarisation.

They mapped out the site’s users according to which parties they’d said they support, and over 10 million Facebook users were mapped on a five point scale, according to whether they were conservative or liberal. The boffins then analysed news content and things they'd liked, and tried to work out how often people see stories that they weren't expected to agree with.

And they discovered that the Facebook newsfeed largely works as an echo chamber, with users less likely to even see stories that they didn't agree with.

So there you have it. Don't assume you're correct, just because 'everyone' on the internet agrees with you.

TOPICS:   Social Media   Government

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