Facebook’s decision might be a litmus check for social media platforms’ capability to draw the line between the safety of free speech and public security. But it doesn’t matter what the consequence, one factor is sure: it is going to enrage many Americans, and even more will really feel helpless about the prospect of political reconciliation on social media. So earlier than Trump takes the highlight in ongoing discussions about social media and politics as soon as once more, is there something that we — the residents of social media — can do to stem the tide of polarization on our platforms?
Though we’d like to suppose that Facebook, Twitter or different platforms might merely tweak some code to save us from our present predicament, these research trace at a a lot more unsettling fact: the root reason behind political polarization on our platforms is us. And it is not going away till we discover a method to remedy it.
Though there is no single resolution to defeat political polarization, my colleagues and I’ve recognized three issues everybody can do to kind higher habits — and we’ve got created new applied sciences to help on this course of.
First, we are able to be taught to fight false polarization, or our tendency to exaggerate extremity on the different aspect and decrease radicalism on our personal aspect — making us suppose that political polarization is more pervasive than it actually is.
Second, we should all turn into more introspective about our personal habits on social media — and whether or not it contributes to false polarization. Becoming a more reflective social media person doesn’t merely imply tamping down our internal trolls. Instead, it requires asking ourselves more elementary questions on how our habits shapes the greater image. If we’re a part of the average majority of Americans who by no means posts about politics, for instance, we should think about whether or not our lack of engagement helps gasoline the hearth.
Third, we are able to be taught to discover average voices on the different aspect more successfully. The thought of a average on social media can generally look like an oxymoron, however this is as a result of the loudest voices drown out these in the center. In addition to studying to keep away from extremists — and never feed the trolls — we additionally need assistance studying how to see the center.
Keeping our eyes skilled on the center might be even more necessary throughout the maelstrom of scorching takes, incivility and anger that can observe Facebook’s decision about Trump. Each of our selections about what to put up, share or like in the coming days will decide whether or not we proceed to fan the flames of partisanship or start to have the troublesome conversations about how to put ourselves again collectively once more.
Though a bottom-up motion to counter polarization on social media won’t remedy all of our issues, our present predicament is not sustainable. Content moderation by the platforms has an necessary function to play — however we have spent an excessive amount of of our time targeted on rooting out dangerous habits on our platforms and much too little eager about how to incentivize civility and compromise.