We hear a lot about social media "echo chambers" these days-- or our tendency to surround ourselves with like-minded people on social media. If you are an American Twitter user, sign in below to learn how strong your echo chamber is, and check out the text below our app to learn more. Note: you may need to disable ad or pop-up blockers in order to use this tool. To learn more about how we protect your privacy, visit this link.
We measure the strength of your echo chamber by measuring the political ideology of prominent politically-oriented accounts that you follow (e.g. elected officials, journalists, and advocacy groups). Your score reflects the average score of these "opinion leaders" on a scale from 0 (most liberal) to 10 (most conservative). The scores of these opinion leaders were created by using a machine learning algorithm that searches for patterns in the way opinion leaders are connected to Democratic and Republican elected officials. You can learn more about this technique by reading this article.
There is some evidence that people who become more aware of their own political biases are better able to understand the views of others. On the other hand, some of our research suggests that stepping outside your echo chamber can actually have the opposite effect-- making you more polarized, not less (To see why we think this happens, see Chapter Three of Breaking the Social Media Prism). There is also new research that indicates far fewer people are trapped in echo chambers than many people think (this research is described in Chapter Seven).
I DO NEXT?
Now that you've learned a bit more about the political biases of the people you follow, why not learn more about how you look to others? Use our Tweet Ideology Measurement tool to see where the language you use in your posts falls along the liberal/conservative continuum.
Can I measure the strength of somebody else's echo chamber?
Unfortunately, Twitter's policies only allow us to display this score for individual users themselves.
Why can't you do this for Facebook or other social media sites?
Unfortunately, Twitter is currently the only social media site that allows us to collect the names of the people in your social media network.
What if I think my score is wrong?
Our model is just that-- a model. You may have heard the old saying "all models are wrong, but some are useful. Our tool provides our best estimate of the strength of your echo chamber, but it is very sensitive to the types of accounts you follow. For example, if you follow a high profile member of the opposing political party not because you like their ideas but because you want to keep abreast of what they have to say, this would make your echo chamber appear more balanced. In other words, our estimates are not a measure of your own political views, but the views of those who you follow.