Context : FilterBubbles / SocialMediaStrife / OnExtremism
A review of the literature: https://citap.pubpub.org/pub/jq7l6jny/release/1
Great QuoraAnswer about how a Finish journalist started liking RightWing and anti-immigrant articles on FaceBook.
There was an experiment here in Finland where a journalist tested the way in which the Facebook algorithm shapes one’s feed .(CategoryCopyrightRisk)
It was eye-opening.
The journalist, Veli-Pekka Hämäläinen, created a Facebook profile with the name Juhani for the experiment.
First he began to follow any suggested page.
His feed was full of articles by mainstream media, not particularly biased towards any direction. Big media houses, smaller fan clubs, anything and everything to make sure the experiment would work on a neutral basis.
After several months of carefully building neutrality, he started to test what happens if Juhani starts to click “like” every time he sees racist content. He “liked” every single racist article he came across with.
Every time some website suggested that Juhani move forward to another website or start to follow a new page on Facebook, he did as suggested.
Very soon Google presented to him MV-lehti (“WTF Journal” in English), which was the most important far-right media in Finland, spreading mainly fake news about immigration. All Juhani had to do was to type “refugees” in the Google search. Google apparently regarded MV-lehti a reliable source, based on the popularity of it.
Juhani started to read the article suggested by Google, and while reading it he received an invitation, decorated with an emoticon, to like the page of the MV-lehti on Facebook.
After he had liked the page, Facebook clearly changed its strategy about what kind of content it showed to him.
Of the 50 articles showed in his feed, 12 concerned refugees.
At first they were moderate articles published by tabloids and mainstream media. MV-lehti only appeared 30th in the feed. Facebook also showed a link to a Wikipedia article that concerned the way in which MV-lehti spreads fake news.
However, every time Juhani updated his feed he was shown more and more extreme content.
Even when the articles he saw were published by reliable media, the content chosen by Facebook concerned articles about politicians who wanted to tighten the immigration policies in Finland.
At some point, Juhani’s Facebook feed started to be filled with violent pictures and overtly racist content.
After liking Facebook pages like MV-lehti or the Finns party he was shown more and more racist content, and as he continued to click “like” on everything that was shown to him, he was offered even more extreme content: articles by neo-nazi groups that aim at making Finland an exclusively white dictatorship with a nazi ideology.
At first Juhani had followed 188 different pages, from left to right, as mainstream as you possibly can.
After the experiment, basically after consistently liking only a certain kind of content, out of these 188 pages he was only showed content published by 14 sources.
He wasn’t shown any content by any mainstream media any more, not even about topics concerning immigration.
In addition to propaganda, Facebook also fed him with directions about what to do.
His feed was filled with exhorations to violence against refugees or even to civil war, public executions and punishing “the tolerant”.
And how long do you think that process took? Several weeks at least, right?
It all happened in two days.
After only two days he had, with the active help of the Facebook algorithm, managed to build himself an extremely racist bubble where violence and supremacism was the default.
You can be neutral for several months and focused on one topic for two days, and after that your feed will be permanently changed.
And it all started by typing “refugees” in the Google search.
So yes, filter bubbles exist, and they are scarily effective.
It took only a couple of days for his feed to be full of extreme right-wing racist stories.
Guess that's how this happens too : https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/feb/01/finsbury-park-london-mosque-van-attack-darren-osborne-makram-ali