Ban the Political Ads; Is it Enough?

Today, I woke up with great news directly from Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter. He was announcing that there will be no more political advertisements on Twitter. The reason he told us is: “We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought.” which sounds just right.

However, I am more concerned about some aspects of social media. This concern has not arisen after this news, it just came to my mind again. Every social media platform is trying so hard to make people stay on their web site as much as they do. To achieve this goal, they curate the contents that might be interesting to us. I believe this is a bigger problem than political advertisements and this is called the filter bubbles. The definition from Wikipedia article is: “Filter bubble is a state of intellectual isolation that allegedly can result from personalized searches when a website algorithm selectively guesses what information a user would like to see based on information about the user, such as location, past click-behavior and search history.”.

Advertisements are way less effective than our social connections, in this case, the people we follow. I believe that fighting with political leading is a social responsibility for every platform like Twitter. It is worth to mention that Twitter was the safest platform for reaching opposite opinions. My concern started when Twitter decided to show me the tweets that are liked by the people I follow. The more opinions which likely to be aligned with mine are exposed to me. Yes, stopping political ads is a step, but many steps are waiting. Not just for Twitter but every social media platform should make something about filter bubbles. One solution that comes into my mind is to open-sourcing the social media content curating algorithms so that we could have an opinion on the algorithms. Or, allowing the users to select which algorithm they want to use. At least you can do that. The current state of content curation just boosts the polarization. It avoids opposite opinions, shuts one’s ear to people which thinks different from you. Can you imagine how dangerous is this? I don’t even see any advertisements thanks to ad-blocking mechanisms. But one thing I always need to be aware of is the filter bubbles. After a viral event, I can’t be sure if I hear balanced opinions.

How do isolate yourself when judging an event, idea or anything after you hear it? As John Stuart Mill states in his book On Liberty: “If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”. In this case, the algorithms are suppressing the opposite opinions. Which may be right. Or at least which allows us to judge fair. The conclusion we may come would be more dependable if we could see from many viewpoints. Our biases should not be fed by similar opinions with ours.

I don’t know if people are aware of this issue. The fact is: every social media platform that we use plays a crucial role in our reasoning. I don’t know if Twitter is concerned about this topic as I do. However, today I felt a little spark of hope when I heard the news. I think we are approaching to fight with filter bubbles or on a bigger scale: post-truth. Maybe we can find a way to hear different opinions across the world.

I would like to hear your thoughts about this post. If you want to share with me, you can find me on Twitter.