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How Facebook Makes Us Dumber – confirmation bias is a huge issue on large social networks

Just found this interesting piece on Bloomberg by Cass Sunstein – consider this when thinking about your Facebook commitment 🙂 Notice my fav quote below :)))

” A new study focusing on Facebook users provides strong evidence that the explanation is confirmation bias: people’s tendency to seek out information that confirms their beliefs, and to ignore contrary information. Confirmation bias turns out to play a pivotal role in the creation of online echo chambers. This finding bears on a wide range of issues, including the current presidential campaign, the acceptance of conspiracy theories and competing positions in international disputes. The new study, led by Michela Del Vicario of Italy’s Laboratory of Computational Social Science, explores the behavior of Facebook users from 2010 to 2014. One of the study’s goals was to test a question that continues to be sharply disputed: When people are online, do they encounter opposing views, or do they create the virtual equivalent of gated communities?  The consequence is the “proliferation of biased narratives fomented by unsubstantiated rumors, mistrust, and paranoia.” And while the study focuses on Facebook users, there is little doubt that something similar happens on other social media, such as Twitter — and in the real world as well”

“Striking though their findings are, Del Vicario and her coauthors do not mention the important phenomenon of “group polarization,” which means that when like-minded people speak with one another, they tend to end up thinking a more extreme version of what they originally believed. Whenever people spread misinformation within homogenous clusters, they also intensify one another’s commitment to that misinformation. In the midst of World War II, a great federal judge, Learned Hand, said that the spirit of liberty is “that spirit which is not too sure that it is right.” Users of the social media are certainly exercising their liberty. But there is a real risk that when they fall prey to confirmation bias, they end up compromising liberty’s spirit — and dead wrong to boot…”

Read more How Facebook Makes Us Dumber (Bloomberg)

Facebook Discussion

Facebook is eating the Internet (The Atlantic)

GerdFeed finds and links on Facebook

Some Facebook-related images that I have collected:





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