If, like me, you’re tired of the seemingly unceasing stream of polarizing commentary and interactions, you may be interested in the following resources that seek to change the current trajectory of our social media discourse. We offer this as an initial collection of depolarizing resources. There may be more (and if you are aware of any, please let us know). As far as we can tell, however, this is the first compilation of an emerging toolbox for resisting polarization. Check them out and let us know what you think.
[In case you’re concerned, these are not affiliate links, and none of these organizations has ever contacted us; this is simply the result of our organic and unsolicited interest.]
|All Sides||Shows news stories from left-, center-, and right-leaning outlets.||Compare treatment of news across political perspectives.|
|Blue Feed, Red Feed||Wall Street Journal graphic that shows opposing feeds side by side||Glimpse other side, notice differences.|
|Escape Your Bubble||Google Chrome extension (or newsletter) that inserts curated articles from the political perspective you’d like to understand better into your Facebook feed.||Read positive articles from other side of the aisle.|
|FlipFeed||Google extension that lets you flip through feeds of real Twitter users.||Glimpse other side, notice differences.|
|Outside Your Bubble||Beta feature in Buzzfeed that compiles a variety of comments from different sites on widely shared articles||Disrupt silos by bringing in outside comments.|
|Politecho||Analyzes your Facebook newsfeed for bias. Provides graphics that represent the political leanings of your Facebook friends (and, consequently, of your bubble).||Visualizing political distribution (and potential bias) of social network|
|Pop Your Bubble||Helps you follow 10 people from different perspectives on social media.||Expose to different views, disrupt the homogeneity of news feed.|
|Read Across the Aisle||News reader app that shows political leanings of articles and tracks which ones you read. If you tend to read on one side of the aisle, a pop-up will suggest you consider reading something from the other side, and it may make suggestions.||Make aware of reading habits, expose to other forums.|
There are obviously issues with some of these approaches. Who decides what counts as “mainstream America”? How trustworthy are the algorithms that identify the political leaning of social media users, and might they tend to select extreme examples? Is mere exposure to the thinking of the other side sufficient? While we harbor some concerns about these tools, we appreciate their makers’ efforts to resist polarization and encourage others to follow suit.
What do you think? What seems promising here, and what seems problematic? What other tools are there (or could there be) to help us depolarize our discourse and “fix” social media?