A New Browser Extension Shows Us Just How Biased Our Facebook Feeds Are

This was, of course, created in response to November’s election results.

With the shocking results of the 2016 elections just a month behind us, it’s clear that the notion of the “social media” and internet “echo chambers” have very real consequences in terms of how people of all leanings view the world. Technology easily affords us the ability to exclude those whose opinions we deem wrong or objectionable, instead living online in the comfort of like-minded people.

Not only does it skew our perception of what the landscapes of the world look like, but it may also color our opinions further.

So to determine just how skewed our Facebook feeds are, a team of Princeton Students including Sunny He, Vivian Mo, Jonathan Zong, and Zachary Liu have created PolitEcho, a Chrome browser extension that analyzes your Facebook data, then produces a quantifiable result as to whether your social media environment is disproportionately red or blue.

It does so by comparing the political makeup of your friends (again, as determined by data analysis) to the amount of left- and right-leaning content in your actual Newsfeed, as shown below:


Unsurprisingly, it was the 2016 election that inspired Zachary Liu to create the extension. He, like so many others, was convinced that Hilary Clinton would win the election because of the overwhelming pro-Hilary sentiment he witnessed on Facebook. When the results came in, he realized that he’d fallen victim to the echo chamber.

The plug-in also features a scatter plot that shows the spectrum of your friends’ political leanings and activity on the X-axis and the frequency of their posts on the Y-axis.


The bigger the circle (and the higher on the chart it resides), the more active any one user is. And the further left the circle is, well...the further left the person is. So that one giant outlier in the top right is they type of guy that probably owns more than one type of shirt with Che Guevera on it. Or possibly Hillary Clinton herself.

At the very least, it’s a novel look at the composition of your Facebook friends, but it could (and should) serve as an eye-opening analysis of how slanted your social media experiences are. Taking that a step further, you can examine whether or not this bias is surmountable or whether it, consciously or subconsciously, changes the way you think.

It’s hard to examine this and contend that the “bubble” of social media isn’t a real, powerful phenomenon.

Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

Keep Reading Show less

September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

Keep Reading Show less
via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

Keep Reading Show less