Did you ever feel like your social media feed was tailored to your beliefs and opinions? Oder spoke with a friend who believed that everyone held their beliefs. Your friend and/or you may have been trapped in an echo chamber. Researchers identified the hyperpartisan echo chamber style and tone in online speech.
Their findings were published in Discourse & Society.
Echo chambers, which are often virtual spaces that contain like-minded people who share their beliefs, and sometimes eliminate opposing views and voices, are called echo chambers. These spaces can be a confirmation of people's beliefs. They are therefore more likely to believe in them and share information. Hyperpartisanship, which is not objective or rooted firmly in fact, or an ideology that is rigidly biased and attacks another view, can also be found in these spaces.
Professor Jean E. Fox Tree (senior author of the paper), stated that hyperpartisan communication is connected to "alternative reality communication". Examples include urban legends, disinformation and fake news. Also, any information that is exaggerated in many ways. It is important to understand how this information gets so much attention. One theory suggests that there may be a shared style or communication.
The rapid spread of information can be helped by strong emotion and the display of group status. Emotional stories are more likely to be remembered than those that are not. The team compared the linguistic characteristics of hyperpartisan and nonhyperpartisan online communities to determine if there was a difference in spontaneous communications. This is a form of communication that involves strong emotion, informality and familiarity and often happens without careful crafting of messages.
Allison Nguyen, the lead author of this study, stated in a statement that spontaneous communication is used by people to build a sense personal closeness. This can lead to higher uptake of information.
Researchers analyzed more than 47,000 Reddit comments from eight subreddits. Four subreddits were identified as hyperpartisan because they cater to political views that are far away from the center. Four other subreddits were also examined by the research team. They claimed that they wanted to encourage discussion between people of different viewpoints.
In general, hyperpartisan communication was characterized by strong emotions, including swearing and exclamation marks. You also saw a lot of pronouns "I" or "you", which helps to build a sense familiarity. Discourse markers were used for directing the flow of conversations (e.g., "you know", “oh”, and "well") and to imitate face-to-face conversation. Prepositions, such as "during", 'in", and "with", were used to convey a sense time and space.
The hyperpartisan subreddits had a marked difference in communication style to those of non-hyperpartisans. These spaces used language that was more neutral, distant, and focused on proof and precision. These spaces used quotes and periods as primary punctuation forms, in addition to third-person pronouns.
Nguyen stated that many people access their news via the internet. This research may help them spot if they are in an echo chamber or bubble. It is crucial to know what to look out for and where to be cautious to prevent disinformation spreading.
It may be wise, therefore, to consider whether you are in an echo room.