On internet bubbles and echo chambers
Do social networks just destroy the most important ingredient in our collective intelligence? What do algorithms do to our diversity, our ability to be innovative, our common
The rise in the number and popularity of social media has led to incredible changes in the volume and speed of information that people receive and spread.
However, this amount of information that people are exposed to on a daily basis significantly obstruct the individual’s conscious choice of what they will be exposed to. This is how we create our own internet bubbles. And this opens up space where people are exposed to extremism, hate speech or misinformation without being aware of it and with not choosing it.
All that information that people consciously or unconsciously consume online can and do shape their beliefs, seamlessly.
Where is our collective intelligence within our internet bubbles?
On social networks, people are part of a group, whether they choose it themselves or others put them in it. In this sense, the phenomenon we call collective intelligence becomes extremely important. Especially given that the processes of problem-solving and decision-making by a group of different individuals is the most effective strategy for solving complex problems and tasks. Differences (intellectual, cognitive, educational…) among individuals in the group are the secret ingredients of success in decision-making and problem-solving.
Social media is a prime example of this principle. However, some of the assumptions underlying these principles can hurt the very diversity.
Diversity is a valuable part of collective intelligence.
How the algorithm influence us?
Two important factors of human nature and us humans as social beings, influence the grouping, as much as segregation at the same time:
- homophily (the tendency for a person to get tied with similar people) and
- social influence (the tendency for a person to become similar to another
or group. person asa result of social interactions and ties.).
Based on these two factors, it is possible to explain how the algorithm helps us to create an internet bubble, and echo chamber on social networks.
The internet bubbles occurrence is related to how we search the Internet. The echo chamber is how we regulate our environment on social media.
As a whole, both elements are influenced by algorithms
An internet bubble filter is a certain form of intellectual isolation that results from our previous search habits.
The echo chamber is a consequence of a news feed algorithm that provides us with information based on
- our previous interest in them,
- people we read or interacted with, or
- reactions on topics that have caught our attention.
This includes more recommendations from friends with whom we share the same views and who will remain among our friends, and recommendations from those with whom we disagree, and will exclude them by unfriending or unfollowing them.
Why should we care?
By curating the information we are exposed to, we are editing our timeline and source of information, and so social media platforms can increase both homophily and confirmation bias.
Thus, like-minded people connect on social networks and filter the information they are exposed to.
This results in selective exposure to only information that is consistent with our beliefs. We no longer have the opportunity to come up with different points of view, arguments
This significantly leads to online polarization and segregation, more than in offline life by choosing television, newspapers and other sources of information.
And polarized and segregated societies are so easy to manipulate. Something to think about.