Greedy Goblin

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Facebook ghetto

Scientific research shows that Facebook users are much more likely to consume political views matching their ideas than ordinary people. The reason for that is people befriend with those with similar views, who share items they agree with, exposing their friends with such items. As a result, Facebook creates an echo chamber where the user believes that everyone thinks the way he does.

I think this goes further than political news, as people share other kind of items too. Any kind of opinion, no matter how nonsense it is (think of anti-vaccination or chemtrail conspiracy) is can be bounced around among "friends", getting reinforcement. Before Facebook, if you believed in such idiocy, you were the only one in town and everyone told you that you are being dumb. After Facebook, "everyone" agrees with you.

I think Facebook is a disastrous thing that will create new ghettos, not in the geographic sense, but in the minds. In ghettos people have bad chances of success, even when the objective circumstances aren't bad (separate but equal), because they are surrounded by failed people who demotivate them from trying and even harass them for turning away from the paths of failure. Ghettos therefore are considered an obstacle and attempted to be dissolved by desegregation laws. Facebook allows failed people to find like-minded failures and lock themselves into self-defeating beliefs. The "friends" of the person reiterate his worst ideas and abandoning these ideas would mean abandoning "friends". The most extreme types of such ghettos are the "oppressed men" and "pro-ana" communities.

I believe the peer-to-peer information sharing is fundamentally flawed as the average people are dumb. Always an intellectual elite held the knowledge. It doesn't mean a monolith, intellectuals always argue on many things. But they agree in objectively provable things, you find no research that disproves global warming, while you find awful lot of uneducated people disbelieving. In the pre-Facebook age, all press was in the hand of this or that intellectual group. While they disagreed and argued over lots of uncertain or unproven ideas, reading any of them was an improvement for an ordinary guy as none of them held objectively disprovable nonsense. Now one can read statements all day without any of them seen any fact-checking or having logical connection between its parts.

The same thing is visible in every online peer-to-peer community, Facebook is just the most prominent. You can see EVE corps being completely sure in their greatness without any objective proof. The most obvious ones can be seen on as highsec mining corps often dream of future nullsec power, but we also remember the completely unsupported "elite" pride of -A-, and see the similar for NC. They are simply awesome because all their corpmates tell them so.


Anonymous said...

"you find no research that disproves global warming"
Depends on what you mean. We all know the world is getting warmer so to that extent most people will agree, but a lot of people believe that it has very little, if anything, to do with us, and there's evidence to support that.

Anonymous said...

@anonymous 08:20 ty for proving gevlons point

Anonymous said...

@anon: I would not say there is evidence supporting that. I don't think we have enough knowledge about climate change to process all the raw data we collect and put it into a model which describes climate change in a global scale.

About the article, you (Gevlon) are right in many ways. But I dont think most people befriend likeminded people on facebook. I mean, many people have thousands of friends. They tag anyone they met in their lives, only if on an introductory level.

I think the problem is more likely because of human kindness/lazyness. When someone sees one of his friends post some dumb thing about chemtrail/astrology/mysogyny/etc, they just ignore it, because the effort to change these peoples narrow mindset is too much, and is futile, and also, they dont want to offend anyone, so they just let it be. So the most they will do is not like the post, just scroll further and like the next post about someone's meal.

If there would be an "dislike" button, then these people would get a lot of unlike and only a handful of likes from likeminded people like him. From which he can see, that if 95% of my "friends" on Facebook think I am wrong, then maybe I am wrong.

Well, assuming people wouldnt mind offending their "friends" with a dislike button.

Kevan Smith said...

I'm gonna share this on Facebook and "like" it. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @9:35: you do not see content published from your 1000 contacts on your newsfeed on facebook. There are algorythms deciding which you would be most interested in ( and most likely "like" ). So even with lots of contact you would generally see only the portion of it that echoes most with what you think.

Reaper said...

"In the pre-Facebook age, all press was in the hand of this or that intellectual group. While they disagreed and argued over lots of uncertain or unproven ideas, [...] none of them held objectively disprovable nonsense."

That's a joke, right?
Most media outlets have always been perfectly willing to spread propaganda, no matter how objectively disprovable.
Unless you actually think all Jews are backstabbers, all Muslims are terrorists and black people do better when living under the control of whites.

Gevlon said...

@Reaper: ideology is NOT objectively disprovable. We don't know for sure (just strongly believe) that there is no secret jewish cabal working on world domination. I don't question the ability of media to be one-sided, but it's nothing compared to the de facto nonsense of the peer-to-peer communication.

Anonymous said...

Something similar could be said about voting. It used to be just educated land-owners, now everyone can vote, including the moron.

Anonymous said...

"As a result, Facebook creates an echo chamber where the user believes that everyone thinks the way he does."

That is not what an echo chamber is.

An echo chamber is where you only have views that reflect yours.

This existed prior to the internet.

The hungarian ultra-nationalists were not hanging out with the groups on the left prior to the internet. They were sitting around reinforcing each others views about how bad foreigners are.

As for anti-vaxxers?

They existed long before the internet, and no-one laughed them out of town, they did what they do now, keep quiet in mixed company and meet with friends to reinforce views.

How do I know this? Well, I am from about 20 years before the internet went "mainstream", and my parents were anti-vaxxers, as were most of the groups they were part of, be they religious or political.

There were books about e-numbers in the 80s, there were very vocal groups on the left and right, saying exactly the same things they do now, and, guess what, they only associated with each other.

Pre-internet was not some utopia where skinheads and anti-fascists shared discussions over a beer.

Everyone does the echo chamber, I don't read crazy GOP subreddits, I don't read r/europe, because I prefer to keep my intake of racist idiocy to a minimum.

David Icke was around long before the internet, and people were paying to see him. Turn on talk radio in the USA, and you will find echo chambers that have existed for decades.

Luke said...

You are forgetting that so "academical community" created such echo chambers in the first place, cue lack of objective progress in areas like practical space travel / practical physics or generally outside consumer technology and military-related developments (and even then we see mostly refinement of ideas developed during WWII or in first two decades afterwards)

If the so called best and brightest are blind, then what about the rest?

All to often you dig into approved science just to discover same lunacy as in conspiracy theories. Just ask any engineer that was forced to work with say, archeologists.

Anonymous said...

You are right, but with the internet it is much easier to find your own echo chamber. The more stupid the thing you believe, the less people will believe in it (hopefully). So in the past it was hard to find likeminded people, but now, where the internet is international and every moron can use it, the density of echochambers must have multiplied.

Anonymous said...

Clearly you did not made your homework regarding global warming then. For example, look at recent report by Indur M. Goklany
and that's just from top of my head. Anthony Watts also does quite good job at running less wacky info hub. Research maybe, instead of regarding on other people's echo chambers ?

Sacula said...

Here you go Gevlon, some non facebook knowledge from a liberal who has seen the light on climate change.

Anonymous said...

You can leave the ghetto, just like you can leave Facebook. You decide who your peers are on Facebook. Unhappy with the quality? Fix it or swap to a different source. Also, you assume there are no intellectuals on Facebook which is false.

"While they disagreed and argued over lots of uncertain or unproven ideas, reading any of them was an improvement for an ordinary guy as none of them held objectively disprovable nonsense."

Fox News...

Your article comes across as strikingly nostalgic.

Phelps said...

"Also, you assume there are no intellectuals on Facebook which is false."

You assume that intellectuals avoid the very echo chambers that Gevlon describes, which is so false it isn't even a "wet streets cause rain" correlation, it's a "virgin sacrifices keep the volcano from erupting" correlation.

Intellectuals are the ones who spend the MOST time in echo chambers. Intellectuals are walking Dunning-Kruger fallacies -- they think that because they are experts in one small, narrow field, they are experts in most fields. In fact, outside their expertise, they are generally walking disasters.