How Facebook makes us biased and dumber

Discussion in 'Computer Science & Culture' started by Plazma Inferno!, Jan 12, 2016.

  1. Plazma Inferno! Ding Ding Ding Ding Administrator

    A new study focusing on Facebook users provides strong evidence of confirmation bias on the social media: people’s tendency to seek out information that confirms their beliefs, and to ignore contrary information.
    Which explains a lot why misinformation spread so quickly on the social media, without being corrected and why people accept falsehoods.

    I would say this is a phenomenon not only related to Facebook, but other social media as well.
    Sylvester and joepistole like this.
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  3. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Yes I think Faecebook may well be a contributory reason for the selection of idiots as leader of the UK Labour Party and as front-runner for the US Republican nomination. It's bad enough with newspapers: we all tend to choose newspapers that see the world the way we like to see it. Social media further reinforce self-selecting, like-minded minorities, encouraging them to think that they way they think is the way everyone thinks.

    Roll on Auberon Waugh's "Stupid Society", eh?
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  5. Edont Knoff Registered Senior Member

    I'm not quite sure if this is a new thing, or particularly Facebook's fault. I just think it becomes more obvious in an environment like facebook which allows fairly detailed quantitive analysis of connections and clusters.

    Before the digital area, political parties, unions, clubs and communities have been the filter bubbles. There, members of similar opinions joined and could support each other that their point of view or way to think is the right one.

    A difference from then to now is, that back then, the groups were also visible through their names and organizational structure, now it's a more subversive meshing through likes, friends and filtering based on past interests.

    Thinking is not something easy - everyone thinks, but few think great thoughts. It's been so in the past, and it's still so in the present. And often great ideas needed a while to become commonly accepted, because they were, well, new, and new stuff hurts hampers ye olde comfort zone.
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  7. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

    This so called "confirmation bias"/"phenomenon" seems to be quite rife on well!
  8. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    really nothing new
    it was common knowledge in the psyc department, circa 1978, that most people seek confirmation--eg: buy a chevy, and you will notice more chevys on the road than you had before your purchase.
  9. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    When people got their news from newspapers, and TV or radio before the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, they were confronted with contrary views and events that conflicted with their presuppositions. They were also constantly in the presence of literary and intellectual skill, which provides depth and nuance to recountings. This confrontation occurred during, rather than long after, their acquisition of information and formation of views on specific matters. This no longer happens, among many groups in US society, without unusually consistent effort and enlightened investigation. It's possible, but it takes work and time. So it's rare, and decreasingly influential.

    People have not changed. The means and nature of their acquisition of information has changed. Almost a third of the US population is currently getting the bulk of its information consistently delivered in such a way that (in certain areas of physical fact) they are less well informed concerning physical facts after they encounter it than before - they are substantially and measurably misinformed, rather than merely ignorant.

    This is different from end recipient confirmation bias, where the filter is in the person acquiring the bias.
    Plazma Inferno! likes this.
  10. danshawen Valued Senior Member

    Just as knowledge added to knowledge is a plus, ignorance added to ignorance is, well, pretty much like a debate between Donald Trump and Sarah Palin.

    One link (from the article referenced in the OP) is golden:

    I'm all for it, and yesterday would not have been soon enough. It does nothing to remedy the basic problem with social media used as a means for connection with others of like mindset, but ranking searches based on relative popularity and / or facts to replace their mistaken ideas might make it harder for them to find each other, relate and organize on the basis of common misbeliefs. A search for "murica", for example, wouldn't return Trump, Palin, or Nugent; just advice to get a spelling checker.

    Social media that deliberately encumbers the freedoms of assembly and association should be struck down with all the constitutional weight a supreme court could muster. But there really is no constitutional right to internet social media that makes either of those things easier, is there? Social media has become popular enough, someone should start thinking about how to use it to make better social engineering choices a higher priority than ad revenue.

    Then there is a culture based entirely on gathering intelligence that is also evidently a source of disinformation to its own community:

    What genius designed this mode of operation for an intelligence organization? What if social media did this also? Maybe it does. It looks like something Donald Rumsfeld might have approved. He liked his "unknown unknowns' a little too much.
    Plazma Inferno! likes this.

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