The issue of social media bubbles has become a bubble of its own just lately.
Post-Trump, post-Brexit and post-truth the issue is this. People build their own bubble from people of a smilar view.
Driving home today listening to Radio 4 I came upon a rather excellent programme Bursting the Social Media Bubble. The iplayer link is here. It’s worth a listen.
Euan Semple has in the past written about there being volume control on the mob. I get that. Nobody wants to see some of the vile abuse you don’t have to go far to see. But what about reasonable people who have a contrary view? They’re not the mob. So, what about them?
Just recently the excellent Alan Oram from Alive With Ideas spoke about the need to have some naysayers in the mix. Why? Because if everything is excellent and amazing you are not getting the bit of challenge you sometimes need.
Besides, without a contrary voice we’re not exercising critical thinking and testing out what we think.
As BBC presenter Bobby Friction says:
“Social media is no longer a simple medium where we just chat and wish each other a happy birthday. It IS now the media. We need to start looking at our own social media bubble because we do have some control.”
Looking at Facebook side-byside
The Wall Street Journal’s Blue Feed Red Feed tackles the issue of rival bubbles by displaying the same subjects side-by-side. It shows Facebook posts about limited key words. Although US, as an exercise it’s fascinating. But does it tackle the issue? Not really.
A danger to you as a comms person as a filter bubble
Across the UK, the population feels as though it has never been more fractured or diverse. My Dad has a Facebook account and never uses it. He’ll watch the Six O’Clock news religiously. My niece gets her news from Facebook. My daughter watches BBC Newsround at school. How we consume the media is diverse.
A risk of a filter bubble is that you think the UK is made-up of likeminded people who all check their smartphones within five minutes of waking up. Newsflash: it isn’t.
But I also think that the forward thinking comms person needs to think about how to enter social media bubbles too. The Facebook group that carps about the council. The community page that is suspicious of the police. We need to be there too.
You can start with your Facebook algorithm
You can start with your own Facebook timeline.
You may have 300 friends. You are only seeing a skim of things from people you’ve regularly interacted with before. You don’t interact with those people? You won’t see them.
So, to widen out the views you are hearing from your friends there’s a tip.
Go to the Facebook home page.
Go to the News Feed in the top left hand corner and click. You’ll get a two-option text box.
Select: Most recent rather than top stories.
Give me a shout if I can help. I’m firstname.lastname@example.org and @danslee.
Picture credit: Federico Feroldi / Flickr