back to article Facebook 'fesses up to running an ideological echo chamber

Science has published research conducted by two Facebook staffers and one academic from the University of Michigan on “Exposure to ideologically diverse news and opinion on Facebook.” The research seeks to explore “speculation around the creation of 'echo chambers' (in which individuals are exposed only to information from …

  1. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. DropBear

      Well, when one considers that 99.99999999999999% of the chat in any forum anywhere on the internet is either about how absolutely wrong everyone else is or how right the previous poster is, this is hardly a surprise.

      ... oh wait. ...dang it.

  2. Teiwaz

    Limited Use then...

    it's not as if they can use these 'pretty obvious' findings to create a real science breakthrough like an SEP field.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I read the news on Google Currents / Newsstand / Whatever it's called today and that at least appears to do article selection based on what I've read before. I have two observations: firstly if you read an article outside your normal range of topics you'll suddenly find your news feed (or whatever it's called) crammed with articles about that one topic. Secondly if you want to read an article outside your normal list of topics because, I don't know maybe you like a broad range of opinions, it can be very hard to access that content.

    Surely I can't be the only person that wants to read (as an example) articles from The Daily Mail and The Guardian?

    1. h4rm0ny

      >>"Surely I can't be the only person that wants to read (as an example) articles from The Daily Mail and The Guardian?"

      Not that particular combination, but I do read from both The Guardian and The Telegraph. (I also read The Economist and paid services such as Stratfor, though I find the former unbearably smug sometimes). My criteria for a news-source is less where they sit on a political spectrum, and more the quality of analysis and level of depth. However, I do suspect this is a minority case. Having what you think confirmed is a positive feed-back loop that I fear some people derive too much of their gratification from.

  4. Doctor_Wibble

    A breeding ground for extremism then...

    But I think we already knew that...?

    If you only listen to like-minded opinions you go into a self-reinforcing spiral which can only end in extremism. Or possibly alcohol.

    If you never hear an opposing view or not enough that are not in agreement with you, there is no mitigation for it.

    Somewhat like the conspiracy theory nutters at the local pub, they had to at least try and keep it halfway plausible because there were normal people around to ask e.g. "why is that duck on your head painted blue?". Online you can filter out all the tricky questions and you end up with something completely mental but convinced it's absolutely accurate because nobody within your circle challenged you to consider where you would get that much custard. Or even "why not purple?".

    1. Kane Silver badge

      Re: A breeding ground for extremism then...

      "why is that duck on your head painted blue?"

      What duck?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Stuart 18

    "why did you bother readin[g] this far?"

    -Because we find your writing informative, Simon.

    Oh? Were we supposed to answer that?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      why did you bother readin[g] this far?

      I didn't. TL;DR, I just scrolled to the bottom to see if there was a point to reading the article. Meh.

  6. IR

    It really doesn't help that facebook will often just not show things in my feed until a day late, like it was specifically hiding it from me.

  7. Mike Shepherd

    Don't disturb me with new ideas

    Given the ubiquitous invitation "seeks like-minded person...", Facebook, Google etc. merely satisfy the majority preference not to be unsettled by anything novel (presumably as they hide behind the sofa).

  8. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Facebook... News...?

    Now there's a concept... getting one's news on Facebook. I'm assuming it's like getting news on Twitter. A splash headline and maybe one paragraph?

  9. User McUser

    When the authors considered the likely sharing of political positions among friends, they found “24% of the hard content shared by liberals’ friends are cross-cutting, compared to 35% for conservatives.”

    So now the question becomes, *why* did they share it? Is it a case of mocking the opposition (eg: "Look at what [opponent] said about [contentious issue]!") or actual interest in an opposing viewpoint?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Depends on what is done with the "cross cutting" content

    I see friends on either end of the political spectrum occasionally sharing "cross cutting" content with outage (typical of the conservatives) or sarcasm (typical of the liberals)

    t isn't changing their minds; simply reading content that challenges one's viewpoint doesn't affect that viewpoint if your mind is already closed.

  11. Gannon (J.) Dick

    A life-long study of political thought leads me to believe that people with opinions contrary to mine represent an existential threat to the resource utilization model of social networks.

    A Modest Proposal: They should be eaten.

  12. Desidero

    I only read The Reg because everyone here agrees with me. Vote me up, fellas!

  13. Spanners Silver badge

    Facebook is not a discussion site

    I have a facebook account. The nearest I have come to political discussion lately is when a number of people I know put in pro SNP commentary.

    If I want intelligent, or otherwise, conversation beyond the level of family and people I went to school/College with, I use Google+.

    If you talked about nothing but politics, it could end up even more of an echo chamber than FB though.

    I seem to have escaped that by never having intended to talk politics in the first place. My initial discussions included IT in general, Android, photography and travel.

    After A while I found that some posters also posted on other subjects and some people from the US were "conservatives" and there were even some from this country who seemed to be supporters of UKIP! Neither of those groups would appear in any echo chamber...

    After a while I realised that I was also getting postings from people I didn't know but on subjects I was already commenting on.

    There will be different algorithms on FB and G+ but I certainly, regularly, get my opinions challenged. It can be done then.

  14. Martin Budden Silver badge

    I'd like more active input please FB.

    Google's News & Weather app on Android has a section called "Suggested for you" and for each article there it specifically asks me if I'm interested in the topic of that article: right now it is asking me "Are you interested in Archimedes?" with an up-thumb and a down-thumb. If I click the up-thumb then in the future I'll get more articles about Archimedes. I like this because I can down-thumb topics such as One Direction and never have to hear about them again.

  15. Tom 13

    This study is flat out wrong.

    I haven't FBed for about three years. There was plenty of "cross-cutting content". Sounds to me like another academic article that selected data to prove their predetermined conclusion.

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