In The Big Sort, Bill Bishop shows how, over the last 30 years, Americans have sorted themselves into like-minded neighborhoods. The same appears to be happening on the web. All the empirical research to date suggests that the reason is not the use of personalization algorithms per se. Algorithms can easily expose us to diverse perspectives. It is the data being fed to the personalization algorithms and the actions we take as end users. Technology companies like Facebook and Google should do more. But so should you and I.
I have watched with some amusement as people have blamed Facebook for the echo chamber and everything else that has happened in US politics recently, because really, doesn’t Facebook algorithms just feed us what we seem to want?
If you made the choice to use Facebook as your source of news, your news will come from your friends, who probably aren’t a very diverse group of people, because we tend to “friend” people who already think like we do.
You can’t do that and then blame the algorithm for not showing you viewpoints that aren’t represented in your chosen friends.