by Peter Franklin
Thursday, 25
March 2021
Spotted
09:30

What is your ideological blindspot?

A new app that looks at Twitter interactions gives some clues
by Peter Franklin

Are you hearing only one side of the story? For Twitter users, there’s a new way to check. It’s called Blindspotter — and it’s free and easy to use. You just enter the name of your Twitter account and it analyses your interactions with other Twitter accounts (or at least those recognised as “news sources”).

It then tells you what percentage of those interactions are with Left-wing, centrist and Right-wing news sources.


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You can do this for any Twitter account, not just your own. For instance, here’s the readout for Donald Trump Jr. (his father not being on Twitter these days):

It won’t come as any surprise that Don Junior leans to the Right. Joe Biden, on the other hand, leans to the Left. In fact, he doesn’t seem to interact with any Right-wing news sources at all:

But how are these results calculated? Blindspotter is a service offered by Ground News, which offers some explanation as to the internal workings.

For a start there’s a database of “2063 news sources” of which 878 are allocated to Left, 571 to the Right and 614 to the centre. The system then goes through the last 3,200 tweets of an account and tots-up all the interactions with recognised news sources.

The following gives an idea what they mean by an interaction:

“…all interactions are not equal, as people are likely more hesitant to tweet/retweet a piece of news than they are to like it. We place the following weights on interactions with news content: liked (1), tweeted (2), retweeted (1.5), quoted (1.45), replied (1.85).”
- Ground News

Checking my own Twitter account, I’m told that my news diet is overwhelmingly centrist. This makes sense, because most of my news source interactions on Twitter are me tweeting out content from UnHerd (which has been listed as centrist news source).

In any case, I’m told that I have “a mostly balanced news diet” — in contrast to Trump who “may have a blindspot on the Left” and Biden “who may have a blindspot on the Right”.

However, I wonder if this might reveal that Blindspotter has a blindspot of its own. Given that almost all my news source interactions are in the centre, shouldn’t I be warned that I may have a blindspot on the Left and on the Right?

Centrists can be every bit as trammelled in their thinking as Lefties and Righties are. That’s especially true in those cases where centrism means the bog standard views of a complacent establishment.

That said, Blindspotter is a fascinating tool that serves a useful purpose. It prompts us to stop-and-think about who we’re letting live in our heads — and provides some idea about who’s living in theirs.

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Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

This assumes that we have Twitter accounts. The vast majority of us do not, and have no intention of having one.
That aside, research in the US has shown that people on the left consume news sources that are 90% leftist. Centrists consume news sources that are balanced somewhat towards the left, which isn’t surprising given that most news sources are of the left. People on the right, however, consume news sources that are only about 60% of the right, which means that they have a much more balanced view of the world than people on the left, although I think we have all known that for some time.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Coming with covid passports is the ‘Data Free Initiative’ where if you do not have facebook or Twitter accounts one will be issued to you, this will be a repository of your health passports, and all your collective on-line presence, for your own protection. And for the protection of all citizens, and society. (note the small number in the bottom right corner, this is your ‘Score’, which is compiled from many sources, and earns you crypto-FT$ when it is high enough – see the T&C to find how to increase this number, and what happens when this number is too low.)

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Observing from the U.S., I don’t think the terms ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ have much meaning any more. Once upon a time the Left was the side of peace, freedom, and equality, but now it’s assigned to the Democrats. Enough said on that score, I think. It’s hard to discern any coherent ideology among the Republicans other than ‘Me first.’. From here, things look equally confused in most places abroad.

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
1 year ago

This would appear to sum up the bubble nicely. Whilst those on the right are undeniably biased in their views and news, they are still exposed and seek some alternative angles, even if they dislike them. The modern illiberal left on the other hand lives in it’s own bubble, completely dismissing and ignoring alternative views. This ties in nicely with Brexit voting patterns where the vast majority of the England was 55-60% leave, but a few Urban middle class areas and professions were over 90% remain, many of these staunch remainers never had any discussion with leavers at all.

Albireo Double
Albireo Double
1 year ago

It’s good to hear another mention of the Centrists, who are becoming so “trammelled”, as you put it, that a description of “bigoted” might be coming over the horizon towards some of them.
I’m another one with no accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Tic-Tok, Instagram, or anything else. How on earth do I manage?
I remember, I manage by just being me, making up my own mind, and being prepared to change it occasionally. It used to be called “thinking”.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

I would suggest (but only from my personal experience) that in older people most users of Facebook, Instagram, etc are women. In the younger generation it is virtually everyone.
Another young versus old thing. Definitely not for older men who want to show how self-sufficient they are, how they don’t need to be constantly in touch with family and friends.

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I don’t know why you were downvoted (I voted you back up), but that’s been my experience too. I hardly ever see men my age posting about trips to the hair salon, their beauty products, or taking twenty million selfies with their children on Instagram or Facebook.

Bertie B
Bertie B
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I think it depends on your definition of older and younger.
I used to have a facebook account – only because I wanted to know what it was all about, I deleted it after unfriending everyone, deleting all my pictures, editing all my posts, and changing my name to Gerry Adams, why? Thats a different story.
I digress… my impression of Facebook is that its a distinctly middle aged thing. The old don’t have an account because they had a life before it, the young dont because they have TikTok and Instagram.
Social media is very much a generational thing so you can only ever use it to communicate with people the same age as yourself.

Mark H
Mark H
1 year ago
Reply to  Bertie B

Our teenage kinds have no interest in FB, instagram is their drug of choice. Which is why the US regulators really messed up by allowing FB to buy whatsapp, instagram, etc.
If not for that we would have to deal with the lesser problem of generational monopolies in social media rather than global monopolies.

Last edited 1 year ago by Mark H
Tobye Pierce
Tobye Pierce
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I agree that FB is more middle age oriented, but I don’t think it’s mainly women. My husband is a big FB guy, and has lot’s of male friends-but none of them is posting trips to the hair salon. Most couples I meet will have one member who FB’s and the other doesn’t care, but it’s about 50/50-I think it’s a personal preference. I much prefer twitter if I want a brief random online experience. However, it’s a mystery to me why anyone feels others want to see what they ate or where they went on any given day-I just don’t get it. Height of narcissism in my view.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

Centrists is another word for ” The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.”
‘Sure I can see why you want to fight Hitl* r and Tojo, but have you looked at it from their perspective? There are two sides to every argument.’ (This is a Centrist position)

jonathan carter-meggs
jonathan carter-meggs
1 year ago

I don’t have Twitter or FB but I do use WhatsApp and I do like watching YouTube (particularly funny Fails and physics stuff). I’m quite old but feel much happier on days where I don’t consume news at all. Using social media to interpret the political leanings of the public is an unrepresentative and biased data set. But we all know that don’t we?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago

How can one not consume news? That is like not consuming thought, or nature, or the world. It would be like living in solitary confinement on bread and water.

Existence for many is the long, grim, march towards death, others it is cat videos and reality TV and interaction with their ilk, but for thinking people it is experiencing all life and existence has to offer and inform, and that means ‘News’, Art’, Nature’ and ‘Philosophy’. (Backward news = History)

Last edited 1 year ago by Galeti Tavas
Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

That depends on what you mean by ‘news’. I gave up reading the mainstream stuff many years ago, Occasionally I find a blog, a forum, a comic strip, even a comments section, that has something interesting about the world in it; but not the mainstream media. Better to spend your time with cat videos.

Basil Chamberlain
Basil Chamberlain
1 year ago

I find it odd to refer to UnHerd as a centrist publication. Surely it is a publication which unites people departing in various ways from the centrist / liberal consensus, some to the left and some to the right. Categorising it as centrist is a bit like saying that UnHerd columnist Giles Fraser is, on average, a centrist because he voted once for Jeremy Corbyn and once for Boris Johnson. But surely it would be very odd to place him in the same box as someone who voted twice for the Liberal Democrats.

Last edited 1 year ago by Basil Chamberlain
Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago

I’d say Fraser is indeed fairly centrist. Not knowing the man but judging on his articles he’d appear to lean slightly to the left economically, slightly to the right culturally, his voting patterns changing on which issues are more pressing at any given time. To me that seems fairly central, and a position held by large numbers of the working classes especially

Basil Chamberlain
Basil Chamberlain
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Hmmm… but the economic and cultural axes are different ones. If I accept that someone like Fraser (economic left, cultural right) is “centrist”, then I’d have to describe someone who was economic right, cultural left as “centrist” too… when really they’re opposites! As I’ve often said here, we should never forget that “left” and “right” are mere metaphors.

Paul Hayes
Paul Hayes
1 year ago

Indeed, the dimensionality issue is very important – https://mainlymacro.blogspot.com/2021/03/as-things-stand-chances-of-defeating.html (see Appendix) – and so is the affine nature of “ideology space”.

Wilbur Somervell
Wilbur Somervell
1 year ago

I think the point would be not to place him, or any other, in any box at all.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago

Unherd is Centrist?????

No Way, first it would mean I was banned by now, as I am always banned from everywhere, second it would mean getting with the center on Covid and making a fetish out of lockdown as that seems to be center.

A graph has 4 vectors, and graphs are how all reality is illustrated. In Left-Right, may be Unherd is centrist, but we need Up-Down also considered.

I would say Left tends to go with the down vector, it is the 6-9 oclock quadrant, wile right is the 12 to 3 quadrant, and this twitter analist failes to take in this ‘Flavor’ as it were.

What we really need is Unherd to do some articles on the Second Amendment, Abortion, Reparations, (maybe an Obama’s Uncle/Mau-Mau reparations) Student Debt (A huge topic! Really there to debase Universities and also to enslave students into a future that can be manipulated by gov toying with the payments, like they do with welfare money, to buy votes, and so make the graduated ‘clients’ of the state, and also chained to debt – debt being how the people not on government payments are controlled)) And the Global Elite, and all those kind of things, so we can figure where they sit on the up/down scale.