That is fascinating. Earlier at the moment, Twitter chief Elon Musk replied to a commentator who questioned why he was seeing extra ‘right wing’ posts in his feed.
Folks on the suitable ought to see extra “left wing” stuff and other people on the left ought to see extra “right wing” stuff.
However you may simply block it if you wish to keep in an echo chamber.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 16, 2023
Now, this isn’t a definitive coverage change or replace that Elon’s reinforcing. However it does appear to recommend that Twitter could, in any case, be seeking to present individuals extra opposing political commentary of their tweet feeds, as a way to spark broader consciousness and engagement. Musk additionally pinned this tweet, which provides somewhat extra weight to the suggestion.
Which is fascinating as a result of as numerous research have proven, this method merely doesn’t work.
Again in 2020, Meta government Andrew Bosworth published a long blog post on the challenges of political polarization on social networks, and their experiences at Fb in coping with such.
Bosworth defined that, whereas they’d, at completely different instances, tried to attempt to present customers extra content material from either side of the political spectrum, the consumer response had been the other of the supposed impact.
As per Bosworth:
“Ask yourself how many newspapers and news programs people read/watched before the internet. If you guessed ‘one and one’ on average you are right, and if you guessed those were ideologically aligned with them you are right again. The internet exposes them to far more content from other sources (26% more on Facebook, according to our research). This is one that everyone just gets wrong. The focus on filter bubbles causes people to miss the real disaster which is polarization. What happens when you see 26% more content from people you don’t agree with? Does it help you empathize with them as everyone has been suggesting? Nope. It makes you dislike them even more.”
Inside this, Bosworth basically acknowledges that Fb utilization has certainly amplified political division, although not in the best way that many count on – i.e. by exhibiting you increasingly more posts that align along with your established beliefs. Bosworth says that Fb customers really ended up seeing much more opposing viewpoints, however that solely exacerbated political divides, as a result of these posts drove extra angst, and additional embedded opposition, versus opening individuals’s minds to a different mind-set.
Certainly, that very same yr, in a speech on the Munich Security Conference, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg defined that:
“People are less likely to click on things and engage with them if they don’t agree with them. So, I don’t know how to solve that problem. That’s not a technology problem as much as it is a human affirmation problem.”
Shortly after this, in January 2021, Meta introduced its intention to scale back the quantity of political content material in consumer feeds.
As per Zuckerberg (on Meta’s Q4 ‘20 earnings call):
“One of the top pieces of feedback we’re hearing from our community right now is that people don’t want politics and fighting to take over their experience on our services.”
Folks have been getting sick of the angst and bickering on Fb, which was inflicting them to go online much less and fewer, so Meta sought to scale back political content material, in favor of extra fulfilling experiences.
In reality, as per extra recent reports, Zuckerberg really directed his engineering groups to successfully reduce political content material out of individuals’s Information Feeds altogether. Which Fb customers additionally didn’t like.
Meta has since scaled again politics in-feed, nevertheless it’s stopped in need of eliminating it.
As reported by The Wall Street Journal:
“Meta now estimates politics accounts for less than 3% of total content views in users’ newsfeed, down from 6% around the time of the 2020 election, the documents show. But instead of reducing views through indiscriminate suppression or heavy-handed moderation, Facebook has altered the newsfeed algorithm’s recommendations of sensitive content toward what users say they value, and away from what simply makes them engage, according to documents and people familiar with the efforts.”
In different phrases, Meta’s not exhibiting individuals as a lot divisive, incendiary posts – which probably signifies that it’s not seeking to spotlight as a lot content material from the other aspect of the political spectrum.
Which can, as Musk notes, maintain customers of their echo chamber. However the analysis and experiments present that customers merely don’t need the fixed provocation and angst, which, ultimately, sees them use the app much less.
On Twitter, that’ll probably drive customers to switch over to the ‘Following’ feed as a substitute of the ‘For You’ major itemizing, which incorporates beneficial tweets, as chosen by Twitter’s methods. If Musk and Co. are certainly pushing extra politics into this stream, these previous experiments recommend that it gained’t work out as they could hope – although in idea, you may see why Musk needs to increase individuals’s horizons, and get them to see extra content material from the opposite aspect of the political divide.
Or he simply needs to advertise his personal political beliefs, and get extra individuals to see issues from his perspective.
It’s obscure the total motivations on this respect, significantly given Musk’s overt political leanings and opinions. However in essence, it looks as if one other concept that appears to make sense, based mostly on an ideological view, however in actuality, doesn’t work – and we now have a heap of research and information to underline this.
Nonetheless, Musk has proven that he’s going to go his personal method, even when meaning difficult established ideas, to be able to show them for himself.
Possibly it really works out completely different on Twitter, nevertheless it looks as if a dangerous transfer, particularly if you’re making an attempt to maximise discovery and engagement inside that major ‘For You’ feed.
However if you happen to begin to discover extra political content material in your tweet feed, that is most likely why.