Christine, a project manager for a publishing firm, found the timeline cleanse she yearned for when she deactivated her Facebook account and started a new one with friends who support Leni Robredo for President.
With the peace of blocking friends who will vote for Bongbong Marcos meant that the 31-year-old was stuck in a pink bubble, blindsided to what's happening with others who may also be trapped in their own red echo chambers.
"I realized that the more stuck we are in our echo chamber, the lesser the opportunity to amplify the facts that will battle misinformation. Parang tayo-tayo lang 'yung nagkakarinigan," she told reportr.
In family chat groups that slowly turned political in the run-up to the 2022 elections, parents, aunts, uncles and children have been trading links and images to defend their allegiance to Robredo (pink) and Marcos (red). For some Robredo supporters, it's a chance to respond to misinformation that hype up the only son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
While a timeline cleanse is good for mental health, it leads social media users to so-called echo chambers, data analyst and researcher Dominic Ligot told reportr. Seeing only posts that feed one's biases is dangerous, he said.
"It's an extreme version... it's the part of the reality you'd rather see," he said.
MORE LIFE KIT:
You shape your feed with likes and shares
Social media platforms store user data -- from that time you "loved" an officemate's cute cat photo to when you shared celebrity vlogs. This way, the algorithm knows which post to feed you next, studies showed.
This leads to echo chambers, surfacing to users only the viewpoints that suit them while silencing opposing voices, according to Dr. Richard Fletcher of Oxford University's Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.
An algorithm, with its self-curating ability, creates filter bubbles, wherein content that users disagree with is filtered out, narrowing their feeds to posts that they want, said Fletcher.
This can fuel confirmation bias, or what psychologists said is the tendency to believe what you think is right and reject what you think is wrong, or accepting only the information that supports your opinion.
Data analyst Ligot said it is normal to shoo away people or information you don't want. It's what Christine does to get rid of "fake news" while avoiding confrontation: hide post, unfollow person, carry on with life.
"It's a normal behavior but also not a good behavior from a critical thinking perspective. Because if you want to be absolutely objective, you have to entertain contrary opinions," he said.
Is your feed splashed with pink because of Vice President Leni Robredo, or all red because of your solid support for presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos? You could be in an echo chamber, said Ligot.
How to see outside your pink or red bubble
The first step to looking outside an echo chamber is to acknowledge that it exists, said Ligot.
"We're very politically active online to the point na it's now becoming substitute for doing real research. You just listen to what your feed tells you, mali rin 'yun."
Ligot also shared these tips:
Engage with people outside your circle
Diversifying the portfolio of Facebook pages you're following can broaden your perspective, he said.
For Christine, it means not unfriending people when she gets triggered.
"I do not plan to fight trolls aggressively, but I plan to be more vocal about sharing factual information within my circle and publicly... Chill lang and just present facts, and always come from the point of concern."
When researching, browse in private using incognito mode. It will prevent browser history from being stored, he said.
"So what Google shows you in terms of the search ranking depended on what you searched before, pero if you search under incognito, iba 'yung lalabas, mas objective ang lalabas."
Explore other search engines
Those who are tired of being tracked online can check out other search engines like DuckDuckGo, which doesn't collect data or track search history.
Be more critical of the information you consume
The best defense against being trapped in echo chambers is critical thinking, he said.
"We have to be very vigilant of what we see online, be more critical of it... Porke may link lang, totoo na 'yan? Check mo muna kung ano ba 'yang link na 'yan."
If possible, unplug
"Don't always base everything you know online," said Ligot.
Christine said, "If there is an opportunity to correct misinformation even in daily conversations with family, friends, drivers, hairdressers, officemates, etc., we should go for it. May mararating din ang mga simpleng kuwentuhan."
Ligot added: "Always have this objective lens. What you see there is a curated version of it. Take ownership of it. Take your life back, or else you will fall victim to those who do."
Dominic Ligot is a data analyst, researcher, and software developer. He is also the founder and Chief Technology Officer of CirroLytix, a social impact data analytics company and co-founded Data Ethics PH, an online community focused on social issues.