Opinion: The internet is dividing us


Emma O'Connor

While the creators of the internet wanted it to bring people together, it is now the cause of a growing divide in the nation.

There’s a reason the U.S. is more divided now than ever before. That reason is the internet. 

Popular apps are programmed to keep their users engaged, so they only give you content that you want to see. At first, this may seem like a good thing. Say you enjoy baking; once the algorithm realizes you gravitate towards these kinds of videos, it makes sure baking videos pop up in your feed. In this case, the algorithm is helpful because it shows you what you’re interested in. However, the constant flow of only the information you want to see becomes dangerous when applied to things like politics and conspiracies.

This presents an easy way for false information to slip in. The biggest example of this is the debate over climate change. Climate change has been proven time and time again by science, and yet, people still disagree on whether or not it’s real. Wonder why? It’s because it becomes hard to distinguish between fake and real news when you’re bombarded with article after article saying something is true. 

Once artificial intelligence (AI) learns of your political views, it will begin to show you media that coincides with your ideals. As incoming information becomes increasingly aligned with your beliefs, it becomes harder to differentiate between real and fake news. If news wasn’t targeted, then people would see both sides.

There are often discrepancies between two articles about the same topic when they’re written by people with different political views. If we were given both articles instead of just the one that fits our political beliefs, we would be prompted to do more research to figure out the truth for ourselves.

We need to start being given the same information to help limit the influence of fake news. Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is that after picking up on your political preference, AI will only give you information that tells you what you want to hear. The lack of variation in our media is aiding political parties and harming the general public.

When the only media coverage given about the other political party makes it seem that the liberals are evil or the conservatives are crazy, people are bound to start believing in those labels. 

Having this prejudice about the other party makes it difficult to have constructive conversations. Going into a conversation with the mentality that the other person is crazy or evil makes it impossible to have a productive discussion.

Social media is pulling us apart, and we need to start actively try and come together. Next time you’re reading an article, try finding one about the same topic written by someone of the opposite political party. Have a conversation with someone who has different ideals; you might believe in some of the same things. Above all, don’t let the internet divide us.