Anyone who has ever used any social network service would probably be well aware of the echo chamber phenomena whereby like-minded individuals would converse among themselves regarding certain sensitive topics, thereby leading to confirmation bias.
Facebook is well aware of the echo chambers that a large portion of its user base has built, which is why the company is rolling out a feature called Latest Conversation that could help negate some of the problems that stem from an echo chamber.
Currently being rolled out to Facebook users around the world, Latest Conversation is a feature that can be found by searching for certain topics using Facebook’s own search bar. Prior to the introduction of Latest Conversation, when a user wanted to search for a specific topic on Facebook, the results would show news stories as well as posts made by the user’s friends.
Once Latest Conversation goes live, not only will the user be able to see news stories and postings from their friends, they would also be able to see posts made by complete strangers about the topic.
Apart from being able to view the posts of complete strangers, the Latest Conversation feature will also come with a tracker that updates in real time, allowing you to see just how many people are talking about the subject matter at hand.
Additionally, conversations will also be updated constantly, with new posts being added to the top of the list, essentially turning the feature into a Twitter-like Timeline.
Interesting though Latest Conversations is, I highly doubt that this feature is enough to break the echo chambers that many of Facebook users have developed. My main gripe with this feature is that it’s only visible when you’re searching for a particular topic, so those who do not do so will never stumble across the opinions of others.
Skepticism aside, the addition of this feature does show that Facebook is looking to undo the damage that it caused when the company first decided to optimize the user’s News Feed to only show posts that the user is interested in. While it is still too early to tell if Latest Conversation will be an effective tool, it is a step in the right direction for Facebook.