Dr. Richard Fletcher
The vast majority of those aged under 35 now say that using social media, search engines, or news aggregators is their main way of getting news online. Even though the use of social media as a source of news has seen little growth in recent years, the centrality of social media, search engines, news aggregators, and other platforms that use algorithms to select news continues to grow as direct access to news websites and apps increasingly becomes confined to older and more interested consumers.
The rapid growth of these ‘distributed’ platforms in the first part of the twenty-first century was initially accompanied by excitement and enthusiasm, but over time this transformed into concerns about possible negative effects – first expressed in the speculative notion of ‘echo chambers’, some years later, ‘filter bubbles’, and more recently, the spread of misinformation. There has been extensive research into whether algorithmically driven platforms really do overexpose people to like-minded views, while filtering out information they are likely to disagree with, creating feedback loops that ultimately reshape their worldview. At least when it comes to news exposure in recent years, this does not appear to be happening (Ross Arguedas et al. 2022). For now, platform use appears to increase the diversity of people’s news repertoires – but platforms change, the debate continues, and the overall effect on people’s attitudes and beliefs is less well understood.
We also know little about people’s attitudes and beliefs about algorithmic news selection itself. But these matter because many of the worst fears about echo chambers and filter bubbles are predicated on a view of audiences as passive, credulous, and unreflective recipients of information.
Surveys can help us see whether these assumptions are correct.
Full Article: https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/digital-news-report/2023/attitudes-towards-algorithms-impact-news