Social media search and its influence on opinion

Interesting news today courtesy of Slashdot about an experiment in digital media influencing opinion. One for the PR people out there..

Experimenting on volunteers in Chile, they analysed the likelihood of individuals’ views on the politically and emotionally sensitive issue of abortion. The analysis was based on term recognition from individual’s Twitter streams.

The volunteers were divided into three groups: one (control) group viewing randomised tweets from the entire volunteer community. Another group of volunteers were presented with tweets from people that supported their position on the issue. The third group were shown tweets from volunteers with an opposing opinion.

The results were clear: volunteers were far more likely to engage when presented with tweets sympathetic to their own opinion.

Now, this isn’t news in itself – we’ve known about The Filter Bubble for many years. The revelation here is how easily your social media posts can be used to determine your opinion on a given issue.

I’m wondering how long it’ll be before Google Adwords (or similar) give PR agencies the ability to massage social media search so results either correspond or contrast with a given user’s perspective. It’s now a proven way to control the conversation.



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