NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A new study from University of Buffalo researchers found that tailored social feeds and websites could be driving Americans apart.
Facebook, Google News, Twitter and others customize their sites for users, pushing articles and other material they might like to the top of users’ timelines.READ MORE: Police Reveal More Details In Death Of 10-Year-Old Ayden Wolfe; Mother's Boyfriend Ryan Cato Faces Murder Charges
While that might make things convenient by preventing information overload, researchers say that it can also feed personal bias. Researchers call the resulting information diet “political selective exposure,” where liberals only see liberal views and conservatives read conservative views.
The study found the effect was most pronounced on ideologically moderate individuals.READ MORE: Long Island Rail Road Riders Face Crowded Trains On First Day Of Service Cuts
“Unfortunately, these popular information technologies can unintentionally hurt our democracy, the increasingly popular personalization tools are likely to lead to a situation where we are surrounded by like-minded information,” said study author Ivan Dylko, an assistant professor with the University at Buffalo. “That creates skewed perception of reality, incorrect beliefs, extreme attitudes and suboptimal political behavior.”
Customizing information may split people into separate camps of Internet pessimists and Internet optimists, each arguing whether this technology hurts or helps democracy, said Dylko.MORE NEWS: NYPD Making Progress Bringing In And Promoting Women, But It Still Has A Lot Of Work To Do
“System-driven customizability, termed a ‘filter bubble’ by political activist and Internet entrepreneur Eli Pariser, is particularly troubling because substantial content is filtered out by the information system without users ever realizing this is happening,” he said “The ease of reducing exposure to challenging opinions and automation of such filtering is what’s new and important about selective exposure today.”