On Breaking Free from Echo Chambers and Filter Bubbles.
For every new online info source I follow, I add a second that is different from the first.
The internet and social media are my main info sources these days. I don’t even have to search for news anymore — stories, articles and very important ‘updates’ are delivered to my pocket 24/7.
Falling into an echo chamber is easy. Floating in a filter bubble is no effort.
But easy isn’t always best.
To avoid the algorithm-induced filter bubbles I choose my info sources (or at least I believe so). I choose to get info from friends (i.e. people I know), strangers (people I don’t know personally) and curated publications released by traditional media and organisations.
I don’t want to live in an echo chamber so I mix up my info stream with different opinions, ideas and perspectives. In mid-2018 I decided to take a more scientific approach to assess if I was bouncing around in my own echo chamber.
I started with a dive into Facebook, my go-to social site with people I personally know. I drew up a spreadsheet and listed my friends down one side and added columns for features such as age, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, ethnicity, profession, residential country, religion, relationship and parenting status, political affiliation, stance on specific current affairs, and the life-stage at which we met. Even with my mere few hundred friends it took time to add and sort the data, but it was a fun and enlightening exercise. For diversity within the features I used, I awarded myself a B grade. There’s variety among my Facebook friends but I can do better.
The diversity was really boosted by having friends in different countries, by adding friends throughout my life, and by playing a variety of sports.
A peek at my second-degree Facebook network was less scientific, I can’t access all my friend’s friends and I don’t know as much about them. I did find out though, that the diversity among my friends-of-friends is exponentially more impressive. This isn’t entirely surprising because I like having friends who are different to me and some of them share this mindset.
My insight is…