What is a Social Media Echo Chamber?
Do you ever hear a friend or family member speak on a topic with the belief that “everyone” thinks the same way? Do you often find yourself surrounded in a social media feed that is completely tailored to you and your beliefs, scrolling along without the immediate realization?
A social media echo chamber is when one experiences a biased, tailored media experience that eliminates opposing viewpoints and differing voices. Due to social media algorithms that ensure we only see media that fits our preferences, we have found ourselves in a comfortable, self-confirming feed.
“Social media sites foster confirmation bias because of their basic function. Regardless of the specific algorithm, social media sites like Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, Instagram, and even YouTube, serve the same basic function: to connect groups of like-minded users together based on shared content preferences.” This is fed off of confirmation bias, which describes the way people perceive and take in information by filtering it through our preexisting beliefs and opinions. “Social media companies therefore rely on adaptive algorithms to assess our interests and flood us with information that will keep us scrolling. The algorithms ignore the recency and frequency of what our friends are posting and instead focus on what we “like,” “retweet,” and “share” to keep feeding content that is similar to what we’ve indicated makes us comfortable.” What brings us comfort is taking in media that already tells us what we agree with, but we must fight this.
Why? In order to truly get access to all information and to evaluate our media, we must give ourselves the opportunity to step out of our comfort zone. Otherwise, we find ourselves taking in many unresearched, false facts. While this becomes increasingly worse for society and leads to more division, there are things we can do to minimize this.
The first step is to beef up your media consumption sources. Adding in a few media sources with differing opinions will allow you to at least understand what people are saying outside of your echo chamber.
Next, the most important aspect is reading each thing you see with a critical eye. Make sure that each thing you accept as truth is truly fact.
Lastly, attempt to search out reliable new sources that are known for trying their best to filter out false narratives.
By accepting that our media buffet on social media is a product of our present beliefs and opinions, we can work to make sure we are not simply stuck in a social media echo chamber.