When Information Filters Become Echo Chambers

By | November 10, 2016

I’ve long said a downside to digital media versus “old” mass media is the loss of a commonality to user experience. “Did you see the front page of the newspaper” once meant everyone read and was talking about the same big article, but not an endless cloud of personalized filters makes such an experience impossible.

Social networking used to affirm views rather than inform views makes it worse. As quoted in the trailer for Adam Curtis’s 2016 documentary Hypernormalisation:

“The liberals were outraged with Trump. They expressed their anger in cyberspace, so it had no effect because the algorithms made sure they only spoke to people who already agreed with them.”

The 2016 U.S. Presidential post-election ire and outright schadenfreude is illustrating the trend which has been escalating for the past two years (and some say two administrations since social media became a campaign factor). As one stinging message posted on Facebook this morning put it (edit for profanity):

“To everyone telling me we need to have conversations with people with differing viewpoints? F— that. We tried. For 8 years. Got ignorance, finger-in-ears, and worse. But now I’m supposed to listen? Go to hell.”