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Deseret News: Here’s how bad the social media ‘echo chamber’ has gotten in politics

Social media is often criticized for creating echo chambers when it comes to our news consumption and politics, and a new study shows just how deep a partisan divide social media has created.

Pew Research Center analysis of Facebook posts on 25 popular pages found coverage of President Joe Biden’s early days in office depended largely on the partisan affiliation of the pages.

“These differences in assessments follow the same pattern found in the broader news media study and are another reminder of the deeply polarized information environment in the country,” Pew wrote.

And it explains why it can sometimes feel like we’re talking past each other when we’re talking politics. We’re experiencing politics in completely different universes.

A possible fix is to change the social media experience from “centralized” networks organized around a relatively small number of big accounts or “influencers,” to something more egalitarian, where influence is more evenly distributed. A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2019 found that it was possible for subjects to moderate their viewpoints on issues like immigration, gun control and unemployment when talking to people who shared their politics.

The solution wasn’t to eliminate echo chambers, but “to be intentional about the social networks in those echo chambers,” wrote Damon Centola, one of the study’s co-authors. “The more equity in people’s social networks, the less biased and more informed groups will become — even when those groups start off with highly partisan opinions.”

Read more at Deseret News.

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