One of the The primary concern when it comes to the harms of social media and political polarization in the United States is the fear of feedback rooms or people operating in the media bubble. If people only hear opinions with which they agree or see stories that fit their worldview, they may become more attached to their beliefs, whether their beliefs Do they reflect the real world? They can also become more manipulative and extreme.
Interestingly, research largely shows that the vast majority of people don’t live in perfectly sealed echo chambers. It was found that only about 4 percent of those operating in the online echo chamber, and most of people on Twitter for example, do not follow any political accounts. Basically, most people don’t follow politics, and a lot of those who do follow are getting at least a little bit of information from different sides of the political spectrum. That said, echo chambers and media bubbles are a problem because they maybe radicalize people, negatively affect those who live in them, and distort the broader political landscape.
“The population that uses hyperpartisan media and lives in echo chambers on social platforms is very consequential,” said Magdalena Wojcieszak, a professor of communications at the University of California, Davis. “They are more politically involved, more partisan, more partisan and more polarized. Because of all this, they are more likely to get involved in politics.”
Because these people are so involved in politics, Wojcieszak says, they have disproportionate influence over American politics. They are often the loudest voices in the room. She says that political activists want their views validated, so they may end up following accounts that align with their views and end up in feedback rooms. Social media makes it easy to find people who are politically right for them, and algorithms often provide them with content they’ll enjoy. All of this can eventually lead to people going down the rabbit hole and becoming more politically extreme.
“It makes you more extreme or polarized. It strengthens your attitude. It also strengthens your sense of belonging to this group, while reinforcing your negativity and hostility towards other groups,” says Wojcieszak. “You think you are a legitimate person, a good person, a moral person. Everyone else is evil.”
People may start to believe that they are the only ones with the truth and that the other side is illegitimate. (You’ve probably seen this in someone who paid tens of billions of dollars to a social media company not too long ago.) more extreme than them. There are a few poses that fit these extreme actors online that could be the trap that pulls them into the rabbit hole.
“To participate in this algorithmic validation and personal psychology, you need to have a certain degree of sensitivity to some kind of narrative from the left or the right,” says Wojcieszak. “If there’s some social or political issue on which you have some views, that can start the process.”