Sign in

6 Things You Should Know About Social Media and Social Networks

The Hype Machine by Sinan Aral is a book filled with insights into the inner workings of our modern social networks and the social media platforms behind them. Here are a few key points:

Source: Wikimedia Commons

1. Clusters of Homophily

Photo by Júnior Ferreira on Unsplash

2. Innovation Brokers

Photo by Omar Flores on Unsplash

3. The Power of Network Effects

4. Polarization of Populations

Source: Pew Research Center

The design of modern-day social media platforms is one that acts as an “echo chamber” for our personal and political beliefs. The recommendation algorithms of the social media platforms we use are optimized to present information that resonates with our internal beliefs. Thus, as algorithms are given access to our personal data and begin to infer our preferences, they start recommending content that appeals to our tastes. This is why, before the rise of social media (see chart above), the average Republican and Democrat did not lean too far right or too far left, respectively. Looking at the same chart, the year 2017 reveals a different story; each political party is more far-right or far-left leaning than the 1994 survey. While this information doesn’t represent a causal link between the rise of social media and political polarization, many indicators point to social media as one of the key reasons for this increased polarization.

Photo by Immo Wegmann on Unsplash

5. Micro Targeting

Photo by Nijwam Swargiary on Unsplash

6. A Tool For Misinformation