Study Reveals How Social Media Algorithms Create Echo Chambers

While social media has definitely helped to bring the world together, in many ways it has caused just as many problems as it has solved. One of the problems associated with a lot of social media platforms is that they often end up turning into echo chambers also known as filter bubble.

While the people that use Facebook most likely have a wide variety of beliefs, there are billions of users on the platform after all, they are unlikely to encounter each other and so might falsely end up thinking that what they believe is actually the norm.

There is a very concrete reason behind this, one that a recent study revealed has a lot to do with active choices platforms like Facebook and Twitter often make in terms of moderating the user experience. These two social media sites use centralized algorithms among other processes that curate a user experience that would conform to the comfort zone of said user.

If you believe a certain thing and post about it often, it is unlikely that you would end up coming across someone with an opposing viewpoint because the algorithm simply wouldn’t allow it.

While you might encounter views that you don’t agree with from public figures, you would most likely not interact with any normal people who hold such views, and so your echo chamber would be complete.

The motives behind the creation of such algorithms were probably not so insidious. Social media platforms want users to keep using them for as long as possible, and creating a zone where their beliefs are validated can help facilitate this. However, platforms such as Reddit and Gab were found to have far less of a separation between users with different beliefs.

This seems to indicate that a less centralized form of social media optimization might be a better route to follow, although the massive success of Twitter and Facebook, far exceeding that of Reddit and Gab, does indicate that the creation of echo chambers might facilitate faster growths in userbase. Regardless, the creation of echo chambers can cause a lot of societal problems, so perhaps it is time that things changed in this regard.


Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images

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