What Could Possibly Bring Conservatives and Liberals Together?

A new study from the Georgia Institute of Technology suggests a few design changes could allow the social media platform to bridge political differences.

A new study suggests a few design changes that could allow the social media platform to bridge political differences. Credit: Patch File
A new study suggests a few design changes that could allow the social media platform to bridge political differences. Credit: Patch File
By Hunt Archbold

From the Georgia Institute of Technology

Those who say one should never talk about politics in mixed company have never logged on to Facebook. These days a typical newsfeed is peppered with links, opinions and jabs about the latest political topics.

new study from the Georgia Institute of Technology suggests that politics are the great divider. People who think the majority of their friends have differing opinions than their own engage less on Facebook. For those who choose to stay logged in and politically active, the research found that most tend to stick in their own circles, ignore those on the other side and become more polarized.

At the same time, the study suggests a few design changes that could allow the social media platform to bridge political differences. By displaying shared interests between friends during their prickly conversations, Facebook could help diffuse possible arguments and alleviate tension. The research also notes that increasing exposure and engagement to weak ties could make people more resilient in the face of political disagreement.

“People are mainly friends with those who share similar values and interests. They tend to interact with them the most, a phenomenon called homophily,” said Catherine Grevet, the Georgia Tech Ph.D. student who led the study. “But that means they rarely interact with the few friends with differing opinions. As a result, they aren’t exposed to opposing viewpoints.”

Facebook’s algorithms don’t help the cause. Newsfeeds are filled with the friends a person most often interacts with, typically those with strong ties. Grevet suggests that the social media site should sprinkle in a few status updates on both sides of political issues. That would expose people to different opinions, which are typically held by weak ties.

“Designing social media toward nudging users to strengthen relationships with weak ties with different viewpoints could have beneficial consequences for the platform, users and society,” said Grevet.

For more on this story click here.

Saber Walsh February 03, 2014 at 08:28 AM
Wow, all it takes is for something about Facebook bringing everybody together and the Progressive Trolls almost drop their Mountain Dew to start banging on the keyboard. The biggest issue right now with the work by Georgia Tech is that it's focused on Facebook, which fewer people are using (my nieces and nephews no longer even sign in). Worse, for some time Facebook has been censoring opinions that are associated with whatever we call the "right" today, and postings as well as links get deactivated or disappear -- so all my more conservative friends, who were on there mainly to keep up with family anyways, have also dropped Facebook. I think that the take-home here is, if Facebook had a future and it didn't play around with postings and links, there could be a way for it to present "what we share in common" (e.g., whether we are progressives, liberals, centrists, or conservatives, we all follow the Red Sox, Patriots, etc. -- why can't we talk about Spring Training?) But most folks don't see much future in that platform, so it is a really nice idea -- at the wrong time.
Metoo February 03, 2014 at 08:37 AM
Hear, hear Paul...
Rick Tocchet February 03, 2014 at 08:43 AM
The democrat party left the building a long time ago, this current crop are gold plated Marxists, up to and including the occupant of the White House.
Safety first February 03, 2014 at 10:07 AM
Many examples why there is polarization between the party's on this post. Some just need to stop and listen to themselves for awhile. Ken. Thanks for the example of what not to do!!
Waverly Watchdog February 03, 2014 at 12:56 PM
There are preditors and prey. The world runs on this relationship. Get used to it. It's been that since the evolution of life. Nothing is going to change that. PERIOD. - - - The same applies to the political world. The tax and squanderers are the preditors; the earners are the prey. 'Bringing them together' results in the prey becomming lunch. - - - "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch; Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote." -- Benjamin Franklin
Gary February 03, 2014 at 02:04 PM
We continue to shift from a market economy where success is dependent on free transactions between free people to a government controlled system where those in power decide who loses and who wins. This decision gets made after a target group of people has been demonized to the point where 51% of the public hates them so much that no one will defend them when the government takes their money and buys 51% of the votes with it. In such a system founded on hatred, cynicism, distrust, division, and lawlessness no one should expect us to get along because the fight to get enough power to take from your neighbors never ends.
Judith February 03, 2014 at 02:36 PM
Nonsense! Nothing will bring them together. The best we can ever hope for is tolerance and that's pushing it.
Grumpy Old Man February 03, 2014 at 05:31 PM
We need to go back to the way the Federalists and the Republicans (forerunners of the current Democratic Party) solved problems back at the turn of the 18th Century - duels!
Ben M February 03, 2014 at 07:33 PM
Today's politicians on both sides of the isle have given up the traditional roots of "Govenment for the people and by the people" for their state's constituents. Instead most vote along party lines, regardless of the will of the citizens for their state. Outlaw monies from special interest groups and all re-election promise contributions. The amount of money spent by American politicians for election and re-election is outrageous. If the people of this country could all get together, vote out all of the career politicians and vote in all new representatives for both the house and senate, then perhaps this country stands a chance to make a recovery and get back to it's roots.
Waverly Watchdog February 03, 2014 at 07:53 PM
The Liberals, or more properly Progressive, idea of bringing the sides together is to DO IT THEIR WAY. Obama is a case in point. His view of compromise is 'I get everything I want; you get nothing'. My way or the highway. - - - In dealing with an opponent like that you have no choice but to be equally ruthless, or you WILL certainly lose. You cannot bring a knife to a gunfight... you must bring an Uzi or something bigger. "When you've got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow". Romney lost because he was not willing to go all in on attacking Obamacare and the dismal economy and the Benghazi attack. You cannot use country club etiquette to fight a Chicago thugocracy veteran.
teri b February 03, 2014 at 08:43 PM
Waverly What we need less of is morons like you that have never read a quality newspaper nor knows anyone that has. Same goes for quality journalism of any description. To mention Benghazi as you and your Fox News ditto heads do is ignorant beyond description. The attacks that killed thousands of innocent citizens that could and should have been prevented is known as 9/11. Imagine what you racist dopes would have done to President Obama had he presided over that dreadful day. I think a low-tech lynching would have satisfied your blood lust, huh? Instead, W received your generous support. No doubt you supported the war against Iraq also - just kill more brown folks, that's where we really excel. Poor Chris Stevens. A great liberal and progressive champion of the Libyan people gets killed and then made into a martyr by ignoramuses he would have disliked intensely.
Ericus Alanas February 03, 2014 at 08:49 PM
If we could eliminate the people from the unemployment line, real politics might happen.
Waverly Watchdog February 03, 2014 at 09:32 PM
@ terri b: - What do you believe to be a "quality" newspaper? The New York Times? The Huffington Post? Perhaps The Daily Worker? All are in the tank for the Progressive cause and slant the news accordingly. - - - As for Iraq, I think that was a stupid error. In case you don't remember, 'brown' people do a pretty good job of killing each other. In the Iraq/Iran War, something like 8 Million were killed, many children forced into the armies and others by poison gas. - - - Chris Stevens was killed by your likely idol's neglect, incompetance, and overarching political ambition. - - - To Progressives like BHO and HRC, the ends JUSTIFY the means. The same goes for Fauxcahontas. - - - @Ericus: The way to boost the economy and the job market is by increasing taxes and regulation... NOT. There ARE jobs out there. They take skills and a willingness to work. But, in the growing entitlement society, only fools work. The beautiful people of the Occupy Movement suck on the government's DDDs.
Waverly Watchdog February 03, 2014 at 09:42 PM
Correction. 1,250,000 killed, not 8 Million
Steve Marino February 03, 2014 at 11:47 PM
Well said Gary, It used to be that when congress passed a bill, it got passed on to the senate for debate, changes made, passed or not passed, and if passed, sent to the president for his signature or rejection. This is the first time in my lifetime that the democratically controlled senate does not vote, or even debate bills that it does not like. Kind of like a dictatorship, it just tosses them into the waste basket. More then 150 bills to help this nation have been thrown away. I have never seen such arrogance from a once great party that has been hijacked by socialist ideals that are dividing Americans on purpose. Very sad!
Steve Marino February 03, 2014 at 11:53 PM
To Teri b: Way to bring in the race card, if you don't agree with ones politics, call them a racist! That should set them straight.
Grumpy Old Man February 04, 2014 at 07:15 AM
Progressives answer to everything is to bend down, kiss obama's butt and call anyone who doesn't agree with them a racist. Period. In a sane society Al Sharpton would be in a mental asylum where he belongs. Well, come to think of it, he is, MSNBC, the network of wackos.
Waverly Watchdog February 04, 2014 at 09:44 AM
@Jack Doyle: In your Obamatopia, only the Iranians will have nukes.
Gary February 04, 2014 at 10:21 AM
@teri : What should the government do if it starts to look like the racist right wing extremists might get control of the the Senate and possibly even the Presidency? What is your solution?
Jack Doyle February 04, 2014 at 10:38 AM
Waverly Watchdog February 04, 2014 at 10:55 AM
@gary: The incumbent government SHOULD NOT try to become a permanent ruling class by illegally targeting opposition groups with the IRS, DOJ, FEC, FCC, and other agencies. The same people who were outraged when RMN did it, now think it's a great idea when BHO does it. Hypocrits.
Gary February 04, 2014 at 10:58 AM
OK Jack. While we're waiting for Teri maybe you'd like to take a crack at it. What is your solution to racist right wing extremism?
Gary February 04, 2014 at 11:42 AM
... crickets ...
Gary February 04, 2014 at 11:59 AM
Let's open this question to the whole 51% who voted for Obama. What should the country do with our racist right wing extremist Tea Partiers? After all, at most, they're only 18% percent of the population. Why should they have any say at all if they are not going to help us promote the common good? These people hate blacks, hate Hispanics, hate Muslims, hate Jews, hate women, hate gays, and hate anyone who doesn't speak English or look like them. They are greedy. They got theirs and now they vote to make sure no one else gets any help from the government. They are uneducated, bible thumping, scientifically illiterate, gun toting, xenophobic throw backs who are genetically incapable of joining us in the 21st century. They are bitter old white people who are dieing off and seem determined to take our country with them as they go. Worse, they are teaching their children to think like they do! If we don't act quickly, in 40 years we'll have another generation of old white people who think like they do. We can't let that happen. We must act now. What should we do with these people?
Grumpy Old Man February 04, 2014 at 12:03 PM
But Waverly: didn't you know, like Barbara Walters admits - BHO is the MESSIAH!
Waverly Watchdog February 04, 2014 at 12:27 PM
As I remember, Baba Wawa had a thing in her loins for Ed Brooke too. - - - And one man's messiah is another man's anti-christ. To some, Hitler, Stalin, Saddam, Assad, and the Ayatollah Koumehni are messianic figures - - - @Gary: I guess you favor "The Final Solution" then.
Gary February 04, 2014 at 12:38 PM
@Watchdog : Objection your honor!!!! Gary was leading the witness! "The Final Solution" is always the solution of choice for big government Utopian ideologues. The left's spoken wish to see old white people die off is genocidal. If you look at it from a Democrat's point of view it makes complete sense. They could implement The Final Solution, and Chief Justice John Roberts would simply call it a "tax", while the MSM would blame the victims for refusing to change their thinking. We are in a very dangerous place right now and it's going to get much worse.
Steve Marino February 04, 2014 at 02:31 PM
Jack D, the cost of the war in Iraq from 2003 to date is 800 Billion dollars. But 4 trillion makes for a good story, I say what the hell, put it out there for affect!
Steve Marino February 04, 2014 at 02:51 PM
Astonishingly, the 800 Billion dollars spent on this war over the last 11 years, is less then Obama sent to bail out the irresponsible states that spent more then they could afford on union pensions. A form of " buying the union vote with our tax dollars"!!!
Grumpy Old Man February 04, 2014 at 03:10 PM
To say nothing of his investment of stimulus funds in failed wind energy source companies!


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