Summary of Using Social Media Appears to Diversify Your News Diet, Not Narrow It

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Using Social Media Appears to Diversify Your News Diet, Not Narrow It summary
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Political commentators have blamed Donald Trump’s surprise victory and the United Kingdom’s Brexit vote at least partially on the “echo chamber” effect: Algorithms customize what people see online to the extent that they only see confirmations of what they believe or think they know. However, as Richard Fletcher and Rasmus Nielsen, two researchers at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford, point out, their survey data don’t bear out the argument that social media use shelters people from alternative opinions. Their research instead suggests that social media expose people to a diversity of news sources even if they don’t care about the news. getAbstract recommends Fletcher and Neilsen’s analysis to media professionals, polling experts and Internet activists.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why some scholars fear that personalized algorithms keep people less informed about the news,
  • How social media use increases the number of news sources people consume and
  • Why recent data don’t support the “filter bubbles” argument.
 

About the Authors

Richard Fletcher and Rasmus Kleis Nielsen are researchers at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford.

 

Summary

Internet activist Eli Pariser has warned that the use of social media and algorithmically personalized online searches insulates people from news sources that promote political opinions other than their own. These “filter bubbles,” he argues, narrow the scope of information and political viewpoints people encounter, leaving them less informed. Furthermore, some scholars have warned that filter bubbles prevent people who don’t actively seek out news online from incidentally coming across news content.  

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