Social media behemoth Facebook has been acting more than a hub of international relationships, wedding photos, and news feeds.
A study in the journal Science has indicated that the social giant can also serve as an echo chamber where in users digests opinions they already agree with.
The survey was overseen by Facebook’s in-house data scientists. They reviewed 10.1 million US accounts anonymously, looking for those with a liberal bent tend to encounter a narrower field of opinions, receiving less than a quarter (24%) of their hard news from conservatives, while right-leaning users get 35% of their hard news from liberals.
The findings suggested that individual choices, more than algorithms, appear to limit the exposure to attitude-challenging content. This meant that people who have been feeling that they are only getting one point of view should start making friends who had different opinions.
Contrary to this, if individual users get information from random others than around 45% of the hard content liberals would be exposed to cross-cutting, in comparison to 40% for conservatives.
However, the findings have also suggested that the filter bubble is less robust than thought earlier. There was a criticism that led Facebook to conduct the study in the first place.
The study was written by researchers at the University of Michigan. It noted, “Our work shows that social media exposes individuals to at least some ideologically cross-cutting viewpoints. The power to expose oneself to perspectives from the other side in social media lies first and foremost with individuals”.
The results have also indicated the wealth of information that can be uncovered by analyzing sets of big data.
With the help of Facebook’s dataset, researchers were able to measure a number of analytics. They got the permission to do a comparison between the ideological diversity of the broad set of news and opinion shared on Facebook with that shared by individuals’ friend networks.