The Social Media Echo Chamber

By: Paul Wedding

Typically, on any one person’s social media platform, they will want to socialize with people they like, people who they can identify with. This means adding those specific people, or specific pages, onto your Facebook, or following specific news media accounts or political pundits on Twitter. And this all seems fine and good at first, but in reality, it can have a hugely detrimental effect on your perspective of the world.

According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 61 percent of millennials get their news primarily from Facebook. The problem with this is that Facebook relies on what someone’s past clicks and likes are to share news with them, which means for the most part they’ll only be seeing news that aligns with their political views, which may not be reflective of actual public opinion. Just look at this data:

 Credit: Wired

Trump overall had a much more dedicated following on social media compared to Hillary. Yet if you asked most liberals, they would have told you Trump didn’t stand a chance in the election, many of them because they didn’t realize how popular he really was because they rejected seeing those differing opinions in their life.

According to a 2015 study by Facebook researchers, “nearly 45 percent of news seen by liberals and 40 percent of news seen by conservatives would be cross-cutting.” That means that, on either side of the party line, more than half of the news relevant to that side would go unseen by the other party. This creates an echo chamber effect. Basically, the devotees of each party are only seeing what they want to see, to confirm their beliefs, while rejecting anything that might disagree with or interfere with their personal ethos. They are rejecting discussion, and accepting ignorance and divisiveness. The only way to truly make America great is through conversation, not division.

Sources:

https://www.wired.com/2016/11/filter-bubble-destroying-democracy/

http://www.journalism.org/2015/06/01/facebook-top-source-for-political-news-among-millennials/

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/348/6239/1130

Published by

UNT Eagle Strategies

Class members of the social media class in the Mayborn School of Journalism