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What Could Possibly Bring Conservatives and Liberals Together?

A new study from the Georgia Institute of Technology suggests a few design changes could allow the social media platform to bridge political differences.

A new study suggests a few design changes that could allow the social media platform to bridge political differences. Credit: Patch File
A new study suggests a few design changes that could allow the social media platform to bridge political differences. Credit: Patch File
By Hunt Archbold

From the Georgia Institute of Technology

Those who say one should never talk about politics in mixed company have never logged on to Facebook. These days a typical newsfeed is peppered with links, opinions and jabs about the latest political topics.

new study from the Georgia Institute of Technology suggests that politics are the great divider. People who think the majority of their friends have differing opinions than their own engage less on Facebook. For those who choose to stay logged in and politically active, the research found that most tend to stick in their own circles, ignore those on the other side and become more polarized.

At the same time, the study suggests a few design changes that could allow the social media platform to bridge political differences. By displaying shared interests between friends during their prickly conversations, Facebook could help diffuse possible arguments and alleviate tension. The research also notes that increasing exposure and engagement to weak ties could make people more resilient in the face of political disagreement.

“People are mainly friends with those who share similar values and interests. They tend to interact with them the most, a phenomenon called homophily,” said Catherine Grevet, the Georgia Tech Ph.D. student who led the study. “But that means they rarely interact with the few friends with differing opinions. As a result, they aren’t exposed to opposing viewpoints.”

Facebook’s algorithms don’t help the cause. Newsfeeds are filled with the friends a person most often interacts with, typically those with strong ties. Grevet suggests that the social media site should sprinkle in a few status updates on both sides of political issues. That would expose people to different opinions, which are typically held by weak ties.

“Designing social media toward nudging users to strengthen relationships with weak ties with different viewpoints could have beneficial consequences for the platform, users and society,” said Grevet.

For more on this story click here.

Gary February 04, 2014 at 12:38 PM
@Watchdog : Objection your honor!!!! Gary was leading the witness! "The Final Solution" is always the solution of choice for big government Utopian ideologues. The left's spoken wish to see old white people die off is genocidal. If you look at it from a Democrat's point of view it makes complete sense. They could implement The Final Solution, and Chief Justice John Roberts would simply call it a "tax", while the MSM would blame the victims for refusing to change their thinking. We are in a very dangerous place right now and it's going to get much worse.
Grumpy Old Man February 04, 2014 at 03:10 PM
To say nothing of his investment of stimulus funds in failed wind energy source companies!

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