Different Worlds, Different Takes

Back in 2011, Eli Pariser wrote the definitive piece on forecasting social risks with his book "The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding from You." The book’s key premise: The Internet isn't an impartial tool that delivers random content to us. Praiser emphasized that everything from Google searches to Facebook posts are controlled by algorithms that personalize content specifically for you. He was ahead of his time. 

There's no doubt that today's political polarization is directly linked to our own filter bubbles. Case in point: deeply visceral reactions toward the Kavanaugh proceedings. The event demonstrated one of the most extreme examples of filter bubbles since the election of President Trump. Opposing viewpoints were driven and amplified largely by two distinct online worlds.  

Wired calls the phenomenon a "tale of two Internets." Those who followed the hearing online through The New York Times or CNN saw a flood of #BelieveWomen tweets and an outpouring of praise for Dr. Ford's testimony. Conservatives found a deluge of #BackBrett posts and a theme of Democratic smear tactics. The narratives couldn't be more vehemently different. And the gaps between them are continuing to widen. 

In their respective bubbles of truth, both parties "won" the day. How? The Internet tricked everyone into believing that theirs was the right perspective. More on this in today's Deep Take. 

This kind of confirmation bias is a dangerous reality that can be difficult for even the most well-educated, media literate professionals to recognize. Pariser warned that the content we encounter online is highly personalized and has the power to prevent us from getting the objective truth. The Kavanaugh proceedings indicate that this impartial truth may no longer exist when viewed through our two parallel worlds. 

Chris Perry 
Chief Digital Officer, Weber Shandwick
What We're Reading
The Person Running your Favorite Football Team's Twitter is Probably a Woman
By Britini de la Cretaz, The Verge
As social media becomes a more and more powerful tool, so do the people behind it. And in sports, that’s created a unique dynamic: the women who have been historically excluded from the major leagues, both behind the scenes and on the field, are now in charge of its voices and public-facing personas.​
The Startup World's Cuddly, Cutthroat Battle to Walk your Dog
By Chavie Lieber, Vox

Wag and Rover, two of the largest players in the booming pet industry, are fighting each other for dominance while simultaneously embroiled in a different, messier kind of feud — one with pet owners themselves. Plenty of users praise the startups for their convenience (it's like Uber for dog-walking), but many are also speaking out with allegations of negligence and empty guarantees.

Hire People Who Aren't Proven
By Leonardo Federico, LF Book
In a universe where data is king, this contrarian viewpoint is to make hiring decisions based on limited data. Federico argues that complex data points and algorithms aren't always the best tools for hiring people. When looking for new talent with creative problem-solving skills, four simple questions can often best gauge a candidate's smartness, attitudes and motivations, he says. 
A "Holy Shit" Moment: How Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian Built Reddit, the "Front Page of the Internet"
By Christine Lagorio-Chafkin, Vanity Fair

In 2004, Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman wondered, "What if all the best articles, the ones you would naturally click on, were all right there in front of you in one place?" During this "holy shit" moment, they decided to build a front page of the Internet. Reddit remains one of the top three platforms for consumers seeking online news and discussion.

Why are People Pretending to be Dead on Instagram?
By Edgar Alvarez, Engadget 
Pranks aren't anything new, but with the power of social media, they can now instantly be seen by millions of people. Social media is fueled by likes, and that can drive people to inconsiderate extremes.
R.I.P., the Celebrity Profile 
By Jon Caramanica, The New York Times
Celebrity profiles, the kind of work that aims to add context and depth to the fame economy, have nearly disappeared. They have been replaced by either outright silence or more often, unidirectional narratives offered through social media. Monologue, not dialogue. And it threatens to upend the role of the celebrity press.
Emerging Technology
Here's What the Spread of Misinformation on Twitter Looks Like
By Daniel Funke & Alexios Mantzarlis, Poynter

A study conducted by the Politoscope project at the Institute of Complex Systems of Paris Île-de-France, analyzed interactions between Twitter accounts during the French Election. The report looked at 60 million exchanges from more than 2.4 million users by collecting data related to French politicians and political keywords in real time using an automated visualization platform.

Using visualization tools like this to express the amount of misinformation on social media could help both media professionals and news consumers conceptualize how much fake news is actually out there and where it comes from. 

Deep Take
How the Internet Tricks You Into Thinking You're Always Right
Most of the content we interact with online is generated to create an emotional response, not a rational one. Wired created a guide to busting through confirmation bias, the cognitive fallacy that's destroying our discourse.
Copyright © 2018 Weber Shandwick

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