A new study suggest that Twitter is unwittingly building an “ideological echo chamber.”
A recent study from Louisianan State University reveals that Twitter users essentially insulate themselves from the breadth of views and opinions on the site by following people with the same interests and beliefs. Hate pizza, well you will likely follow others that don’t care for pizza as crazy as the idea of hating pizza is. Politics is even more divisive on Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR).
It’s an exposure issue
“In political science, we know that who you speak to is very important in your voting decisions and political identity, and I think increased use of these platforms is going to make network behavior even more relevant in politics,” said doctoral candidate in politics at New York University, Pablo Barbera after reading the study.
“Two users of Twitter might be exposed to very different content based on which accounts they choose to follow, while two people reading the local newspaper might read different stories but at the end of the day it’s the same content they’re exposed to,” said Knight, who works as an economist at Brown University and co-author of the study, to the New York Times.
Not just Twitter
Not surprisingly, it’s not just Twitter that creates this “echo chamber,” but social media in general.
“I think it would be an overstatement to say it’s an echo chamber, and we never hear points of view we don’t agree with, but if the echo chamber means we mostly hear points we agree with, I think it’s true on Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR), I think it’s true on Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), and I think it’s true in life,” said Steve Buttry, the inaugural Lamar Visiting Scholar at LSU’s Reilly Center for Media and Public affairs. “We all have some friends that just drive us nuts because they’re not seeing the same truth that we are,” continued Buttry. “And I think most of us have those friends on social media, and we either roll our eyes or hide them or we jump in and poke the hornet’s nest when they post something we don’t agree with.”
It all sounds very high school but there is quite a bit of science to it.