Facebook's not the filter bubble, we are

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Interesting – and quite important – experiment from The Guardianexposing the right and left in the US to Facebook newsfeeds from the other side of politics:

Tobias said that exposure to the other side made her realize how difficult it might be to find common ground after the election.

“It’s frightening to me to see how much the left and the right are divided right now,” she said. To bring us back together, I don’t know what it’s going to take.”

I have much to say about the recent kerfuffle over fake news – but I’m still working it through. In the meantime, it’s important to remember that what Facebook has created in its newsfeed algorithm is a dark mirror of humanity, one that feeds on our own confirmation bias to reinforce a cosily reassuring view of the world, in the sense that our existing opinions are rarely challenged.

That said, exposing people to new views doesn’t mean they’ll shift the way you might want them to:

“Seeing the liberal feed pulled me further to the right,” said Loos. “Without getting the counterpoint, I was drawn more and more to the conservative side. Instead of luring me in, it pushed me away.”

The filter bubble is us – Facebook just makes it easier.

algorithmsconfimation biasFacebookfilter bubbleThe Guardian

Adam Tinworth Twitter

Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.