Is social media building up too many filter bubbles and do we really want out of them?
Politics aside, in this divisive time, a lot of fingers have been pointed at social media regarding the current state of affairs (regardless of which side of the aisle you are on), specifically at filter bubbles. It seems we are more divided now than ever before. Like-minded counter parts learned in the Presidential election in November, that no, not everyone “thinks like us.” Barack Obama even addressed the change in how we communicate in small social media bubbles in his last speech as President:
“it’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles… and never challenge our assumptions.” Of course these bubbles can be neighborhoods or campuses or churches, but as he also points out the problem has grown with the rise of social media and a news “channel for every taste.”
In case your bubble does not define this term, a “filter bubble” is where you have curated your social networks so concisely that no opinions, content or facts that differ from your own ideologies will permeate your settings. Not to be the channel to take the blame, social media and opinion web sites are quickly responding to our new “bubble crisis.”
- Chrome has launched PolitEcho, an extension to show the biases of your online friends
- PBS developed a quiz to see just where your bubble falls
- Read Across the Aisle is an app that monitors your media intake and reminds you to read other and differing opinions
- There is a Facebook extension that also allows you to “Escape Your Bubble”
However, with all new technologies aside, do social media users really want to leave their bubble? They built them and added/deleted/changed settings to get their feeds precisely where they want them to be. In a very rudimentary survey we conducted, we found that active social media users (those on 1+ hours a day) do not want their feeds interrupted with differing opinions. Most that we talked to, albeit in our bubble, wanted to keep their feeds with interests important to them. Social media is for entertainment, news channels are where one should get the news.
Some find fault in trying to have the problem become the solution. Since users built their filter bubble – are they really going to be willing to burst them? So far, adoption of these new technologies (since December 2016) has been slow.
As we look at content planning from a brand perspective, filter bubbles may come into play. Depending on your targeted-user profile, you may want to tailor your copy and images to match items in their feed to blend with their other content. Perhaps your voice will change to break into all the filter bubbles. Who is in your pocket to help you plan?
What are your thoughts? Is social media the fix to filter bubbles? Ultimately, will it change your social media content planning?