(The Washington Post) – Facebook’s 1.44 billion users rely on the site for lots of things: keeping in touch, sharing photos, casual stalking.
But if you get your political news through Facebook, as more than 60 percent of millennials do, please browse with extreme caution: The site doesn’t show you everything, and may subtly skew your point of view.
This is not, of course, a new fear; moral panic over “echo chambers” and “filter bubbles” is as old as the social Web, itself. But a new survey by the Pew Center, released on Monday, suggests there may be some new urgency here. Per that survey, a majority of American Internet users now get political news from Facebook — and the 2016 elections, as we know, are in just over a year.
That’s really important, and important to understand, because Facebook is quite unlike traditional conduits of news. (Think: your local ABC affiliate, your gossipy neighbor, this page, what have you.) As in those more traditional settings, Facebook gives you a great deal of control over which sources you follow and what you choose to read. But unlike those other, traditional sources, Facebook also hides many stories selectively. According to a recent Washington Post experiment, as much as 72 percent of the new material your friends and subscribed pages post never actually shows up in your News Feed.