Entertainment TV Q&A: Social media ‘echo chambers’ blamed for rise in extreme politics

Q&A: Social media ‘echo chambers’ blamed for rise in extreme politics

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Experts have blamed social media algorithms for the rise in extreme political views. Photo: ABC
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How did Donald Trump become the US President? Where did the rise of One Nation come from? How did Brexit come about? Q&A‘s panel of experts believe social media could be to blame.

On Monday night’s program, the panelists were asked if Facebook algorithms are leading to the rise in support for parties with extreme views.

Philosopher Peter Singer said the issue is more problematic internationally. Photo: ABC

The consensus across the board agreed that Facebook, and other social media platforms, provide an outlet and forum for extreme opinions, feeding the rise in the “silent majority” and right-wing “echo chambers”.

“I completely agree. I think the internet, and Facebook in particular, are feeding this silent mentality affecting everything,” Labor Senator Clare O’Neil said.

“One of the impacts I experience is the tone of the political discussion, which is getting much harsher and much more personal, and much more critical.”

World-renowned intellectual, Australian-born philosopher Peter Singer, said the issue was even more problematic abroad than it is in Australia.

“We’re all in our own silos. That’s the problem. You see it much more in the US because there’s Fox News channel that the conservatives listen to and NBC that the liberals listen to,” he said.

“You get polarisation. People are not understanding or talking to each other.”

Special Minister of State Scott Ryan wouldn’t say whether he thought the influx of extreme views on social media was a positive or negative, but said it was a product of the volume of media outlets causing it.

Former Abbott government adviser Ted Lapkin highlighted the different radical movements around the world and how it is narrowing the way people think.

“Yes, but I think it is a much broader issue,” he said.

“It is simply unsustainable.”

‘The commission made a bad decision’: Penalty rates cut axed

The decision made by the Fair Work Commission to cut Sunday penalty rates was scolded by Senator O’Neil, who said the commission made the wrong decision, leaving workers set to lose an average $6000 from their annual income.

“Exactly how unequal are we going to allow Australia to become?” she said.

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Labor Senator Clare O’Neil said the Fair Work Commission made the wrong decision. Photo: ABC

“This is a direct pay cut to almost 700,000 of the poorest paid people in this country.

“The commission made a bad decision. It was a decision not made in line with Australian values, if you care about equality at all you know that the 700,000 poorest paid people in the country is a major issue for us.”

She was asked by host Tony Jones about Bill Shorten’s decision to go back on his word and not accept the decision from the independent umpire.

“Was he serious when he said that?” Mr Jones asked.

“Bill made those comments when the assumption of this discussion was the commission was not going to go down the path of putting these people further back than they already are,” Ms O’Neil responded.

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