Facebook Echo Chamber

Freedom and the Echo Chamber by Patrick La Roque (laROQUE - photographe.photographer.montreal)

Using Facebook as a content feed (on a daily basis, something I'd actively avoided until now) creates a vacuum of epic proportions. Over just a few days my timeline morphed into an increasingly narrow set of views, tailored to what I had liked and shared. This isn't by any means a surprise, but the speed at which my "news feed" skewed itself to a very specific category of posts is disturbing, especially from a platform hell-bent on becoming everything to everyone. Knowing an ever-increasing number of people do rely on this as their main source of information explains a hell of a lot. By giving up our personal freedom to curate, we leave the choice of content to algorithms that focus on what we already browse, read and consume. And that's incredibly dangerous. These echo chambers become their own realities, potentially spreading disinformation and lies as truth, distorting facts through manipulation. This is how people become convinced President Obama is a Muslim hell-bent on the destruction of American values; that Hillary Clinton was part of a satanic cult; or that Trump won the popular vote. This is how democracies fall. Bread and games. Total abstraction of reality. It's nothing short of mind-control—in fact, it's the very definition of it.

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Personal blogs are enclaves, small corners of the web that are increasingly hard to discover, drowned as they are by the clamour and noise of social media platforms. I still use RSS feeds in Feedly and I know for a fact this makes me a dinosaur. But it also puts me in control of what I read, allows me to subject myself to a wide-ranging set of point of views if I choose to do so. We all tend towards what we already relate to, we seek out like-minded groups; it's a very normal, human behaviour. But when we isolate ourselves when it becomes all but impossible to hear anything else, then we lose our ability to make informed, coherent decisions.

I agree.

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  • Inger
    10th December 2016 at 8:49 AM

    Agreed, it is scary if you only get likeminded feed into whatever plat form you are using on social media. The danger is that you'll start thinking everyone has the same opinion as yourself and you no longer get challenged to think outside your own box.

  • Rob Usdin
    8th December 2016 at 9:03 AM

    I use Facebook, and I have never unfollowed others even when their views are vastly different from mine. I try to game the algorithm a bit by using lists which show me certain people but more of their stuff because lists are small, so I can see more from the people on that list.

    I too, use Feedly religiously.

    The problem is you and I and others like us see ourselves as curators of our own content, not merely consumers. We are the curious, the techies, the ones who are willing to take the time to be open. Most of the world is not like us.

    • Khürt Williams
      8th December 2016 at 9:20 AM

      Thanks for the comment, Rob. I unfollow only if the relationship is abusive (name calling etc.). So far I have only blocked a few family members.

      I started blogging back when Radio Userland was hot software and used Blogger for a bit before switching to WordPress in 2005.

      I keep doing it because of a 2014 article, DO NOT BUILD YOUR BRAND HOUSE ON LAND YOU DON’T OWN, by John Battelle.

      If you’re going to build something, don’t build on land someone else already owns. You want your own land, your own domain, your own sovereignty.


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