Skip to main content

Social Media. Stifling, if not silencing debate, altogether

Let it not be said that we are not living in an ever-rapidly changing world.    Technology has brought many positives with it, but life, and all that entails on a daily basis, including our interaction with others, is changing - and not necessarily for the better.   Take the impact of social media!

"The Internet might be a useful tool for activists and organizers, in episodes from the Arab Spring to the Ice Bucket Challenge. But over all, it has diminished rather than enhanced political participation, according to new data.

Social media, like Twitter and Facebook, has the effect of tamping down diversity of opinion and stifling debate about public affairs. It makes people less likely to voice opinions, particularly when they think their views differ from those of their friends, according to a report published Tuesday by researchers at Pew Research Center and Rutgers University.

The researchers also found that those who use social media regularly are more reluctant to express dissenting views in the offline world.

The Internet, it seems, is contributing to the polarization of America, as people surround themselves with people who think like them and hesitate to say anything different. Internet companies magnify the effect, by tweaking their algorithms to show us more content from people who are similar to us.

“People who use social media are finding new ways to engage politically, but there’s a big difference between political participation and deliberation,” said Keith N. Hampton, an associate professor of communication at Rutgers and an author of the study. “People are less likely to express opinions and to be exposed to the other side, and that’s exposure we’d like to see in a democracy.”

The researchers set out to investigate the effect of the Internet on the so-called spiral of silence, a theory that people are less likely to express their views if they believe they differ from those of their friends, family and colleagues. The Internet, many people thought, would do away with that notion because it connects more heterogeneous people and gives even minority voices a bullhorn.

Instead, the researchers found, the Internet reflects the offline world, where people have always gravitated toward like-minded friends and shied away from expressing divergent opinions. (There is a reason for the old rule to avoid religion or politics at the dinner table.)

And in some ways, the Internet has deepened that divide. It makes it easy for people to read only news and opinions from people they agree with. In many cases, people don’t even make that choice for themselves. Last week, Twitter said it would begin showing people tweets even from people they don’t follow if enough other people they follow favorite them. On Monday, Facebook said it would hide stories with certain types of headlines in the news feed. Meanwhile, harassment from online bullies who attack people who express opinions has become a vexing problem for social media sites and their users."



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Wow!.....some "visitor" to Ferryland in Newfoundland

So, which are the democratic countries in Europe?

It's probably taken by most that all the countries in Europe are equally democratic. Not so, concludes a survey. Some are more democratic than others.

"Denmark's democracy is in rude health while the political systems of Britain and France have some major shortcomings, according to a new Swiss-German study ranking the quality of democracy in 30 nations. Germany achieves a respectable score but falls short of a top 10 slot.

Germany is more democratic than France, Britain and even Switzerland, according to a study released last week by the University of Zurich and the Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB), a research institute funded by the German government.

The 'democracy barometer' measures how well 30 established democracies implement the principles of freedom and equality. Denmark gets top marks, while Britain and France are found wanting, ranking 26th and 27th respectively. Costa Rica came last, just behind South Africa and Poland.

The study spans the …