Social Media’s Filter Bubble Driving Political Anger


Tom Steinberg is one of those internet gurus who actually does interesting and useful things and he is really on to something with his fears about the filter bubble:

I am actively searching through Facebook for people celebrating the Brexit leave victory, but the filter bubble is SO strong, and extends SO far into things like Facebook’s custom search that I can’t find anyone who is happy despite the fact that over half the country is clearly jubilant today and despite the fact that I’m *actively* looking to hear what they are saying.

This echo-chamber problem is now SO severe and SO chronic that I can only only beg any friends I have who actually work for Facebook and other major social media and technology to urgently tell their leaders that to not act on this problem now is tantamount to actively supporting and funding the tearing apart of the fabric of our societies. Just because they aren’t like anarchists or terrorists – they’re not doing the tearing apart on purpose – is no excuse – the effect is the same, we’re getting countries where one half just doesn’t know anything at all about the other.

It’s in the power of people like Mark Zuckerberg to do something about this, if they’re strong enough and wise enough to swap a little shareholder value for the welfare of whole nations, and the world as a whole.

Filter bubbles exist outside social media, Guido noticed that during the 2008 Ken v Boris campaign private car owners didn’t know anyone who was going to vote for Ken and those who solely relied on public transport were almost the reverse, they didn’t know anyone who was going to vote for Boris. That was a function of income to some degree. People associate with people like themselves in real life. As our information sources become ever more filtered and self-socialised this will mean that we live in our own social media echo chambers.

It seems that after every major political event people who have been living in a filtered world find it difficult to believe that their opponents won. Because we’re living in our own filter bubbles.

This is even more pronounced on the left because so many of them never read right-leaning media, whereas those of us on the right are more used to reading The Guardian, watching Channel 4 News, Newsnight et al. Is this a significant social problem? Or does it just mean that after elections the losers will be unpleasantly surprised?

See also Dr Max Wilson on the subject:

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Quote of the Day

Dr Alexander Kogan, the app developer who originally harvested the Facebook data, said…

“I think what Cambridge Analytica has tried to sell is magic and made claims this is incredibly accurate and it tells you everything there is to tell about you. But I think the reality is it’s not that. If you sit down and you really work through the statistics and you think what does a correlation of point three means, those claims quickly fall apart. And that’s something any person with a statistical background can go and do.”


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