The Sleepers | cakeordeathsite

I am reposting my re-post of this from cakeordeath and especially in re discussions of censorship and media.  Facebook has so much power to shape what users know or see that recent cases, such as the dispute over unilateral removal of paintings, go beyond the art world: many voters get much of their political news from Facebook.  As Scott Bixby points out in “‘The end of Trump’: how Facebook deepens millennials’ confirmation bias’ (Guardian 1 October 2016) points out, while Facebook users of all ages generally see posts that confirm their views; for younger voters who may not read a daily news source, the echo chamber of Facebook algorithms could mean they only hear affirmations of their own beliefs.

Six out of every 10 millennials (61%) get their political news on Facebook, according to a survey conducted by Pew Research Center, making the 1.7 billion-user social behemoth (which includes more than 200 million in the United States) the largest millennial marketplace for news and ideas in the world. But within Facebook’s ecosystem exists a warren of walled gardens, intellectual biomes created by users whose interest in interacting with opposing political views – and those who are them – is nearly nonexistent.

Many of the young adults in my life complain that Facebook is their parents’ social media and instead opt for Instagram, Tumblr, Vine, or Snapchat (I know, already boomers have infiltrated these platforms–me for one). Nevertheless, the Pew study indicates that a significant number of young adults rely on Facebook for political news.  Older voters also see their political preferences reflected back to them in their news feeds, “But baby boomers are the least likely to get their political news from Facebook – unlike millennials.”   Bixby continues,

That confirmation bias – the psychological tendency for people to embrace new information as affirming their pre-existing beliefs and to ignore evidence that doesn’t – is seeing itself play out in new ways in the social ecosystem of Facebook….Even Facebook itself sees the segmentation of users along political lines on its site – and synchronizes it not only with the posts users see, but with the advertisements they’re shown.

Trevor Noah recently used the popular or never-heard-of (depending on your “likes”)  Tomi Lauren (“Final Thoughts”on Facebook) to make the same point.

Politics and art culture collide often enough, but in the days of the Culture Wars and congressional hearings about the NEA funding purportedly “obscene” art, there was a rigorous public debate.  As Bixby points out, Facebook users can “block” or “unfollow” those whose political views offend or bore them.  Public institutions (like Congress, the NEA, or public museums) and private institutions (like art galleries, news outlets) exercise a form of censorship by omission: in the case of women artists, this is the point the Guerrilla Girls have been making for over thirty years. But when the algorithms of social media elide people historically oppressed by taking down live video of police encounters or whole ethnic groups (as Palestinian activists have claimed against Google) we need to pay attention to all censorship and plan for unintended division

Like many posts on cakeordeathsite, this is thoughtful and worth exploring.

“Inspired by Charles Baudelaire’s poem Femmes damnees Delphine et Hippolyte (Damned Women Delphine and Hippolyte) from his famous collection Fleurs du mal (Flowers of Evil) which had resulted …

Source: The Sleepers | cakeordeathsite


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