Behind the Headline: How Social Media Silences Debate

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How Social Media Silences Debate
8/26/14 | The Upshot (New York Times)

Behind the Headline
Tweet Thine Enemy
Spring 2013 | Education Next

A new Pew report finds that using social media like Twitter and Facebook makes people less likely to express views that differ from those of their friends.

According to Claire Cain Miller, writing for The Upshot, the researchers found that the Internet “reflects the offline world, where people have always gravitated toward like-minded friends and shied away from expressing divergent opinions.” Miller continues, “And in some ways, the Internet has deepened that divide. It makes it easy for people to read only news and opinions from people they agree with.”

In a 2013 article for Education Next, Mike Petrilli looked at how this kind of polarization is playing out in the education policy world. “Are proponents and opponents of reform having a spirited conversation, or are we not even listening to one another?” he wondered.

Petrilli examined the lists of people who follow opinion leaders like Diane Ravitch and Michelle Rhee on Twitter and found that there was not much overlap between the lists. He concludes “The bottom line is that there’s a whole lot of talking past one another in the education debate, though maybe less than in the political debate writ large.”

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-Education Next

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