The echo chamber, the famous echo chamber, is one of the biggest dangers of social media: a bubble where people see content that reflects only the opinions they already have. But it is possible to get out of this bubble, here is an experiment that proves it
A recurring complaint about social media promoting the echo chamber, the echo chamber: a place where people are encouraged to consume only content that reflects the opinions they already have. These positive confirmation bubbles have been blamed for the dissemination of fake news and are of serious concern to those who regularly use social media.
Echo Chamber meaning
But there is some good news: according to data from a recent study, social media users may not be opposed to different, external opinions, especially if they trust the source, and they would be inclined to leave their echo chamber.
Echo chamber: the experiment
The social media agency The Data Face conducted an experiment to test receptivity to political content. They interviewed a total of 1,400 people of various ages, with a mix of self-declared liberals, conservatives and moderates. Each person was shown 8 videos: 3 from liberal sources, 3 from conservative sources and 2 from non-political nature (kittens, for example).
Chamber of the echo and contents of different opinions
To best simulate the social media experience, the author of the study Oliver Gladfelter told the participants to be able to skip videos at any point at will. After watching all the videos, he asked them to judge the reliability of the source and whether the material had changed their point of view.
According to Data Face's findings, liberal and conservative viewers were almost as willing to watch a video from the political opposition until the end. As a company spokesman explained:
It seemed that the liberals observed all the contents at about the same speed. They watched 50% of the videos. Conservative viewers watched conservative videos more, but not in a statistically significant way.
Older viewers were more likely to watch videos that they perceived as credible, even though people of all generations quickly flew over an Infowars video. While only 16% of respondents said that the videos changed their views, that number increased, the video in question was more credible.
Zuckerberg and concern about the echo chamber
Last year, Mark Zuckerberg expressed concern about the echo room effect on Facebook. He argued that the mere presentation of articles containing different opinions does not seem to work on most people:
Research shows that some of the most obvious ideas, such as to show people an article of the opinion opposed to them, actually increases the polarization of opinions. A more effective approach is to show a range of perspectives, of different opinions, this allows people to see how their opinions are positioned on a broader spectrum and come to a conclusion about what they think is really right.
Perhaps the key to let the reader, or the viewer in this case, make his or her own decision to look at alternative opinions to his own, to experience other perspectives.