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The forum: a filter bubble, an echo chamber or something else?

Dear everyone,

I have a vague understanding of those notions but not much more.

As I understand it, roughly, both a filter bubble and an echo chamber reinforce your own belief system by reducing exposure to different opinions. But the filter bubble results from an algorithm (example: social media), while the echo chamber is made of free voluntary choices (example: forum).

But is it really that simple ?

For example, I know algorithm usually means a set of computer instructions and that it is this meaning that comes with the “filter bubble” concept. But, in a certain way, medicine, psychology and sociology also have some “rules” and concepts that show that there is, sometimes, also certain “biological” algorithms and “psychological” algorithms (if you can call them that). It seems we are not completely free to join or contribute to an echo chamber.

On the opposite, on a social media, reinforcements of our own belief system also occurs with voluntary choices to exclude “friends” who disagree too much and invite “friends” who share closer viewpoints (at least for now).

And on top of that, some serious newspapers use filter bubble for every internet-based channels: forums, social media, chat, etc.

Best regards,

Swiss-fairphone

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Dear everyone,

I found an article who seems slightly better and practical but still gives the impression that different notions overlap.

The most interesting part is about a more general concept that include the others (filter bubble, echo chamber, etc): the “reinforcement bubble” which brings problems like:

  • we overestimate the prevalence of our perspective by talking too much to people with the same viewpoints
  • it inhibits authentic dialogue and true change

In my opinion, the part that summarizes the core problem is this one: “Reinforcing our current feelings and thoughts makes us feel better […] but when doing so we also lose the ability to elevate our ideas and collaborate on major issues […]”.

It goes on with practical solutions to overcome the reinforcement bubble effect.

It seems that it really is a natural and biological thing that just happens if unchecked. This might be interesting for all of us as members of this very focused and very specialized Fairphone forum to keep a more open mind.

Link: https://www.nbcnews.com/better/lifestyle/problem-social-media-reinforcement-bubbles-what-you-can-do-about-ncna1063896

An other link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/articles/zbwkbqt

Best regards,

Swiss-fairphone

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I see what you’re getting at here. I think this forum is both a filter bubble and an echo chamber.

Specifically, to post here in the first place, I believe most users will either have bought a Fairphone or have a strong interest. That being the case, the viewpoint has already been significantly filtered. You will not find users here weighing up whether to buy an iPhone 12 or a Fairphone 3+.

Once users are here, like most forums concentrating on a single brand or principle, I’ve seen cases of negative views being drowned out by blind faith in the company and products.

It’s a shame, because the principles that Fairphone stands for can only be held highest by rigorously challenging them.

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Dear pcm,

I agree with you, especially for an ethical company and its community forum. Officially, publicly and in theory, the Fairphone company seems to agree too:
“You’ve supported us at the same time you’ve kept us sharp and kept pushing us harder” (Fairphone company blog post “Launching Fairphone 3: Dare to care” of the 27 august 2019)
Link: https://www.fairphone.com/en/2019/08/27/launching-fairphone-3/

But in practice, they seem to struggle on points they haven’t chosen to focus on:

Is that the case more on company hosted community forums than on third-party independent community forums ? Or is it pretty much the same ?

I have been a member of this forum only for a short time. I wouldn’t go as far as “blind faith”. In my experience, the problem is rather a strong bias which tends to make some members forget certain basic rules of fact-finding and logic. It leads to the popular use of some formal or informal fallacy, for example:

  • “straw man” technique
  • illusory truth effect
  • sophism

But the result is pretty much same: the drowning of any fact and/or opinion that is too different or too critical.

OK. Well, for now, I tend more toward the “echo chamber” effect for this forum because of the lack of algorithms (in the narrow sense). But to be honest, I have merely begun to read material on these subjects.

Do you have any knowledge or tips on these notions (reinforcement bubble, filter bubble, echo chamber, communal reinforcement, etc) ?

Best regards,

Swiss-fairphone

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