Donald Trump by Gage Skidmore CC BY-SA 3.0

Google, Facebook and Twitter can easily just pick a president for the USA — here’s how

One of the most discussed topics 2016 in social media is the filter bubble — at least in my bubble (wow that’s meta).

What is a filter bubble

A filter bubble is a set of algorithms that intelligently hides most parts of the Internet for you.

If I make a Google search, and if you make a Google search, we will receive two totally different search results.

What I post on Facebook reaches about ten percent of my friends. Not just any friends. But friends who visits the same websites as I do. Friends who uses the same hashtags as I do. Friends who likes the same articles as I do. In brief — the ten percent of my friends that are most alike me.

As a user the filter bubble offers me simplicity and makes me feel that my view of the world aligns with a bigger consensus view of the world.

The social media houses do this for a reason of course, they get more activity and consequently they make more money.

Does social media really give us more transparency?

Back in 2006, one of the things people talked about the most was that social media would provide more transparency, and let everyone on the internet to be a publisher. Now ten years later, I can only state that people are more isolated in their filter bubbles, and more disconnected from the rest of the world.

Do you live in a Clinton bubble or a Trump bubble?

To begin with, I live in Sweden, I am a Swedish citizen and I didn’t vote in the american presidential election. Yet it’s impossible to not follow it in the media.

I most definitely live in a Clinton bubble. I see linked articles and watch TV clips that are pro Clinton. I haven’t seen anything good about Trump. He is a big failure when it comes to finances (everyone in the Clinton bubbles know that he would have been a lot richer if he had bought index funds, instead of trying to run his own business. He is significantly less successful than the average company). He is lying and denying things he had said, even though it’s on tape. He is a sexist and a racist. To me it’s mind-blowing that anyone can vote for him. Mind-blowing!

I’ve understood that people who have experimented with two different user accounts on social media platforms — one pro Clinton, and the other pro Trump — receives extremely different information in their feeds. There’s no overlap at all. Highly remarkable.

Organic reach versus paid reach

The problem occurs because the social media platforms control the organic reach and the paid reach. If you want to reach a specific target group on Facebook, you will have to pay.

Let’s say that you specifically want to reach uneducated and poorly informed white men outside the big cities. Then you have to pay. This means that they will never get the information that Donald Trumps company is bleeding money, that he lies, that he is a sexist and a racist, unless someone pays for it.

The problem with Social Media and their diffuse political view

Old school media like TV channels, Newspapers and Magazines clearly declares their political view. Social media houses, are much more diffuse where they stand politically.

What happens if a social media house has a political agenda

Hypothetically a big social media platform can tweak and trim their algorithms, so that instead of reaching about ten percent of your connections organically, you will reach five percent alternatively fifty percent of your connections, depending on if your post is pro or con a specific political topic. That would radically change the landscape in social media.

I’m not saying that any social media platform is weighting their algorithms this way. I’m just saying that they have the power to do so, and no one knows the architecture behind the algorithms.

How has the filter bubble affected the American presidential election 2016

I have no doubt that the large social media platforms are so influential when their algorithms control what will be exposed in peoples feeds, that they essentially have affected the outcome of the presidential election. Deliberately or not, they have created two bubbles so far away from each other, that no one sees the big picture.

Not seeing the big picture is of course disastrous for a person who is about to vote for a new president.