Social media and the news – fodder for indoctrination?
Sir, – Social media and online news have the power to inform and educate.
But unfortunately sophisticated algorithms and selective services are perverting that power and turning us into fodder for indoctrination.
Much as I like fuelling my distaste for Donald Trump or hearing news of my favourite sports, if I hadn’t scanned the printed Irish Times I wouldn’t know, for example, that a journalist was murdered in Malta or news of the latest developments in Iraq.
If it is possible to pre-select only topics of direct interest and aligned opinion, most people will do so. And in this way news will only serve to amplify confirmation bias.
In other words, our existing knowledge, stances and opinions will merely be informed and strengthened and never broadened or challenged.
This facility has all the appearance of a benign technology but is actually a dark force that will ultimately diminish intelligent debate and reinforce divisions in society. – Yours, etc,