Guido has written previously about how we are living in our own filter bubbles, both on social media and offline. Demos take us inside the echo chamber with their report “Talking To Ourselves”. The study confirms what many have observed for years: there is a huge echo chamber effect in political discussion online, meaning people tend to share and engage with news sources and individuals who share their own beliefs, and shun those with opposing views. Demos analysed the Twitter accounts of 2,000 users, finding:
“supporters of UK political parties tend to talk to themselves online, to read and share news that is ideologically in tune with their party and discuss issues on which they hold strong ideological views”
The research shows SNP and UKIP supporters have a particularly strong aversion to engaging with people or organisations who hold opposing views. Labour supporters are most likely to share links from the BBC, Guardian, Mirror, Indy and HuffPo. Tories seem less stuck in their echo chamber, sharing links from the BBC, Guardian, Telegraph and Mail. All groups tend shares news from sites aligned with their party affiliation – the further from the centre their affiliation, the deeper the echo chamber becomes…
This is replicated in the analysis of retweets. Labour, SNP and UKIP supporters retweet their fellow party supporters the vast majority of the time. Tories retweet fellow Tories less, though still more than they do anyone else.
The data found @GuidoFawkes is the sixth most retweeted political site among the survey group, ahead of even the BBC and ITV. Unsurprisingly our retweeters are more likely to come from parties on the right:
The report concludes:
“Compromise, the ability to process a diverse range of opinion and, above all, an acceptance of some kind of shared reality and truth are central to a functioning democracy. All are threatened by the echo chamber effect.”
As our information sources become ever more filtered and self-socialised this will mean that we live in our own social media echo chambers. Is this a significant social problem? As we have seen recently, it means that after elections and referendums the losers are unpleasantly surprised…